Mar 28, 2014

Emotion vs. Reason at School Board

Last night the school district went through it's annual gnashing of teeth. One again the budget realities dictated that there be layoffs. Once again the teacher's union president filled the chamber with distraught teachers and students. Once again those school directors who accept the reality of numbers were vilified by those playing for acceptance and popularity. Come June, the system will once again allow one of our elected officials from Harrisburg to be a white knight, and announce that he has secured so many more $millions for the Allentown School District.

UPDATE: Allentown School District Launches ASD Virtual Academy The Allentown School District has launched their new ASD Virtual Academy offering students online academic opportunities with a personal touch – the support of our high school guidance teams, face-to-face time with their teachers, and technical support and assistance. ASD Virtual Academy students residing in the Allentown School District in grades 9-12 may enroll in these online program options and receive high-quality online courses through three cyber or virtual educational experiences: · Full-Time Virtual High School Program · Credit Recovery Program · Virtual Supplemental Courses This is an exciting for the Allentown School District. It allows the district to compete with cyber schools, and keep both students and student financial allotments within the district. Hopefully, even the obstructionists will voted against the budget last night can appreciate this development.

42 comments:

michael molovinsky said...

Anonymous said...
Mike,

That was it in a nutshell. There was posturing and pandering. I have lost respect for a few people in the process. Not afraid to say it.

Scott Armstrong

March 28, 2014 at 7:18 AM

the above comment was submitted by school board member scott armstrong

Anonymous said...

I don't mind folks voting against the layoffs if they can propose a reasonable plan to pay for employee retention. Unfortunately they never do.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:33, you are correct: on facebook cece and joanne want to blame armstrong and zimmerman, they suggest that more administrators should have been laid off, but they have no real alternative budget plan. charlie thiel has apparently also succumbed to this compulsion for approval, disregarding facts.

Anonymous said...

One of two things is happening at these meetings. Could the teachers’ union not understand the budgetary dynamics that are driving the tax increases and lay-offs? Do they not understand the annually rising expenses imposed on the district are beyond the board and administration’s ability to control? In other words; do they believe we can print money or wish on a star and have our dreams come true? Doubt that. Some union members may have been misinformed by union leadership that other remedies could be found instead of cuts. The flaw in that argument becomes clear when one understands 70% of our budget is directly related to personnel costs (soaring PSER’s &Medical benefits).
Or is the union using these meetings, the board and administration as a vehicle to deflect blame from themselves? After all, it is the costs associated with their generous defined payment pension system that is the main driver of escalating cost. Who can blame them for wanting to protect that? It’s a great deal for them. Unfortunately rather than urge Harrisburg to find a solution that is equitable to both the teachers and the tax payers the union chooses to make villains of local school boards and administrators that are merely trying to balance their budgets.

Scott Armstrong

Michael Donovan said...

1)Of all social goals, intergenerational transfer of skills and talent is vital to a society's long-term health.
2)Many parties are responsible for achieving this result. It is not the responsibility of one person or entity or family or part of an overall government.
3)Almost 2/3rds of the ASD budget comes from outside sources, which means others must care about our children if we are to succeed.
4)Simply cutting because there is not enough money is not a long-term solution.
5)A solution rests in all sides giving up a bit of their interests to focus on our future. This means the city, state, and federal government must work together and not be influenced by those who do not want to pay for education, even though ultimately they benefit from a stable society.
6)To just cut is sweeping the problem under the rug.
7)To say it can be solved by cutting administrators, though symbolic, because the administrators indeed are failing the community, is overly narrow.
8)Charter schools, if allowed to run amuk, will destroy the public school system and ultimately destroy a 180 year old cause of this country's success.
9)The circus is interesting to watch and the cry that the NIZ's eventual tax flow will solve the problem is wishful thinking.
10)Finally, I amazed at how politicians, especially urban politicians, do not understand the connection between education and a city's success.

michael molovinsky said...

michael @9:30, you're correct that it's a circus. over at facebook on ce-ce's and joanne's pages those with torches and pitchforks are accusing people who supported the budget as being against children. balancing the budget is mandated by law, yet none of these emotional ones have proposed an alternative budget. as armstrong has pointed out, the teacher benefits are the major expense, yet compromises on that issue are never raised. the school board has very limited options, and all protests to the vote last night are emotional and theoretical, and a dereliction of their duty.

Michael Donovan said...

Michael, I believe those that voted against the cuts have every right to be upset at what is happening. Maybe you disagree because a viable alternative is not in place, but they are not getting assistance from government officials to change the political climate upstream from Allentown. They are at least saying something is wrong, and I agree with them. Simply cutting is not the answer.

furnguy said...

Both Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Donovan make some excellent points. The State and to a lesser degree DC, is where the fight has to take place.

Anonymous said...

Having never had a personal conversation of any real substance with either Miss Gerlach or Mrs. Bauer it is interesting that according to your post they opine I do not like children. Perhaps they have made presumptive and unwarranted judgments through transference or some form of profiling contingent on mys personal demographics. I give little credence to shallow utterances made on Facebook.

I agree with many of the points made by my fellow board member Mr. Armstrong and my neighbor Mr. Donovan. Cutting the budget is not the be all end all solution to this issue. The reality is it goes much deeper and is more complex than most can readily appreciate. There are solutions in the offing but most seemed more engrossed in making accusations and vilifying their perceived opponents than being patient and willing enough to listen to proposed alternatives.

Many say we need to maintain the status quo and in some cases increase the number of teachers, but no one has come up with a solution how to do this. A bit short sighted and unrealistic in my opinion. If we run out of money will ASD employees cut their salaries or work for free?

I have advocated since day one that we need to develop the current years budget with the next 2 -3 year budgets in mind. Truth is it has always ended up as you stated above - begging for handouts at the door of the state house and senate to make it through another year, at the last moment. I have also expressed my opinions to legislators personally on this issue. Hopefully enough people will demand a solution that one will be forthcoming.

Over the past few years a lot of money has gone into "economic development" in Allentown with what appears to be little regard to the state of education in the city. I guess we are supposed to balance the budget based on promises. The figure I have always heard is about $3 million a year coming from the NIZ development efforts. To date no revenues have materialized. Given our current financial status and the prospects over the next few years this amount will be woefully inadequate. Some would call it "chump change" relative the dollars invested in the footprint of Allentown.

Anyone have any viable alternatives, please let us know.

David Fehr Zimmerman

michael molovinsky said...

michael@10:16, i'm surprised at your comment. as a former member of city council you know that the school board by law is mandated to approve a balanced budget, as is city council by charter. it's yes or no, and those voting no should have the maturity to propose an alternative. it's correct that our elected officials in harrisburg could make some positive changes, but for the teacher's union and their supporters on the board to keep supporting the very people who have NOT made these changes is pure self serving partisan politics.

michael molovinsky said...

david@10:40, for the record, over at facebook in comments on posts by ce-ce and joanne, armstrong is routinely accused on not liking children, and you're accused on sleeping during the meetings. both of you are blamed for the lost of teachers, and readers are encouraged to vote you off the board. although these comments are not made directly by ce-ce and joanne, they are certainly cultivated by their posts. facebook certainly is democracy in action, but with no
constructive solutions ever offered.

michael molovinsky said...

joanne bauer has provided some cost saving idea's on facebook, i took the liberty of copying them for this comment.

Michael, we were never considered in the decision making choices for budget cuts--just outside business folks and when Charlie asked for suggestions they quickly went to vote--sell off all the land the district owns--merge small schools as they are expensive to run--share principals in small schools and appoint a head teacher when the principal is not there--stop renovating schools for high school kids and then decide that it is too expensive to run and revise the building again for little one--that is a possible consideration for the newcome academy, basd ran their central office with three admin during their swap crisis-reduce staff in central office-eliminate academic coaches for the time being, eliminate instructional supervisors for the time being, eliminate teacher special ed. supervisors for the time being, provide k to 12 programming eliminate dual enrollment, there is a test they give at least twice or thrice that must be given only once, ratio-I vocal section at allen has 1 student-combine the classes dealing with like subject areas that have enrollment less than 5 to be more cost effective--use cyber classes for low enrollment classes, establish credit recovery as a cyber experience, have the foundation provide text books, instruments, professional development along with what they do, eliminate outsourcing for related services, charge fees for outside groups using district owned fields, get advertisers to adorn birney crum stadium, turn off the lights when not being used, find a more cost effective outsource bus company, find out where the monies went for the new gym floor at allen when it was designated for renovation and was paid for by insurance during the leaking roof-get in compliance with special ed. students to avoid law suits and due process, keep records efficiently of iep meetings and re-evals along with speech, occupational, and physical therapy services as they state reimburses for those hours, stop buying licenses for ebooks and research materials that can't be accessed on our technology, resell our textbooks to other districts along with other school related items--the south is needy for these items-those things get thrown away or auctioned off cheaply, restructure the busing routes as three buses bring less than 90 students from all over the city to midway manor, revisit the groups who worked for a year to provide suggestions for cuts, change the high school schedule back to its original state, sell off discarded library books rather than throwing them away, removed the public relations position, stop printing the fancy expensive calendars, get board approval for items under 10,000 dollars like the tv station put in central admin basement, lobby for no transportation for charter school students, don't make deals with charter school for a cap versus length of year of contract, reduce contract lengths of central admin, removed perks for high level admin people, and that is just a few ideas off the top of my head joanne bauer

Anonymous said...

About 10 years ago a friend challenged Me to drive by Allen H.S. at dismissal time.I was surprised at what I saw.I know all the administrators and politicians saw the same thing.Now We throw stones at each other while trying to find a reasonable solution to which was once a adequate school system. Did I hear someone mention managing a disaster.I all fairness can We expect better in these times

michael molovinsky said...

@11:26, this discussion has nothing to do with the student body or any issues at allen, but the cost of operating the school system. the word "disaster" referred only to the budget.

Anonymous said...

Not going to go through every item but the first two
“sell off all the land the district owns”
This has been discussed. With whatever land the district owns it would in all likely hood be penny wise and pound foolish to sell. It is very likely land next to existing schools. I will recheck but it is my recollection the district holds no land of any real value.
“merge small schools as they are expensive to run--share principals in small schools and appoint a head teacher when the principal is not there”
Tried this last year and the union protested, Joanne was against it as I recall.
As for the rest I remind readers that employee costs make up 70% of the district's budget. Employee related costs are the drivers of our escalating expenses. One doesn't need an MBA to understand this is where the savings have to be found. By the way, one way to save one teaching position is to have the AEA pay their president's salary. Currently, the taxpayers/district are footing that bill.

Scott Armstrong

jackson said...

scott and david--well spoken and well said--I feel that you are both well intentioned and my reference to sleeping was not directed at either of you but to a member who actually did fall asleep when the were co-chairing a meeting--as for the land-I know that there is a big plot behind mosser--and the old Wilson--the maintenance building has possibilities--yes, last yeat at that point I didn't want to see a shared principal but have changed my viewpoint on that--necessity insists upon such new decision making ideas--I actually like you and scott and feel that you are both very intelligent men. I don't think that you don't like children at all. you both have children and that doesn't make any sense. scott-i think that you would make a great state legislator especially due to your experience on the board. I believe that we have always agreed to disagree. remember when I asked you to my house party--so, I am framed by my public school teaching and I am biased naturally about that--I worked well with david's wife on safety task force and we did make a bit of a dent. yes, perhaps pennies saved but at least pennies--I wanted to ask if they had piloted the new textbooks for a year to see if they were student and teacher friendly--having been in situations where books were purchased and then not used I did want more information. concerning the anti-bullying programs--I have heard nothing but criticism from the persons delivering the information. you both are in tough positions due to our own individual political philosophies and it should not be that way with a school board position. that has always bothered me because dissent is what has made this country great. that was my swan song as I am soon leaving. I was and always be a proponent of the teachers--I belong to that universal family--

Anonymous said...

Maybe some of these non profits should be paying school taxes. That would be a real contribution to the community and education.

Anonymous said...

Michael@10:49.

I do not engage in ASD business or debate on Facebook.

I am not regular user or a fan of Facebook. I believe it has its place in our culture for some.

Too often though it is reduced to nothing more than a cowards venue for those without the fortitude to face issues and conflicts directly.

The public school system is broken and needs to be fixed. The solution needs to begin with restructuring through legislative action.

BTW - I have always encouraged people to vote me off the board. I would love the challenge but doubt they would be successful.

David Fehr Zimmerman


Anonymous said...

the district has a tract on Emmaus Ave just behind Rita's. As it is wooded and has wetlands it market value is no doubt limited and all the wilderness folks would be upset. The district id own a plot at 4th and Emmaus Ave that was profitable sold off. Note: proceeds from asset sales can only be used for capital uses.

bauer said get rid of dual enrollment. One of the best thigns ASd has done in past 10 years. Kids get some college classroom experience and if they do well enough, college credit, too.

Anonymous said...

Exactly how did the public school system become so "broken"?

Anonymous said...

As yet another edited out news worthy weekend is upon us, the most interesting story is on allentowns public education system? This is just the soul sale sector
preditorizing the innocent indigent children of allentown pa.


redd
patent peding

michael molovinsky said...

@3:06, the lucrative police pension of 2003 almost bankrupt allentown in eight years, imagine teacher pensions for 30 years. worse, imagine our state representatives being endorsed by a powerful union and never addressing the problem. i don't blame the teachers, i blame the state government.

Anonymous said...

Well I've run into hard times in recent years and almost lost what little I owned to the asd. I never had any children and don't mind paying towards other peoples Childrens education. The problem is the avenue for funding teachers salaries and benefits that are well above the average income levels of the taxpayer base.
There has to be a flat tax that doesn't go into the general fund. The system does not work and taking someones house who worked their entire life for is unamerican. We can fund years of wars and foreign handouts yet we can't afford to hire librarians for our schools. You shouldn't have to lose your house when you run into a problem.

Anonymous said...

MM -

I think the teachers need to accept responsibility also.

They are the ones whose union continues to make unreasonable demands that their already unsustainable salaries and benefits be continued or increased year after year.

They are the ones whose union fights the closing of any school building (and consolidation of students) despite declining enrollment and the loss of hundreds of teachers.

They are the ones whose union uses school kids as pawns at School Board meetings, claiming that their demands for taxpayers to continue to pay more to keep an antiquated, dying system afloat is all "for the children". In reality, their demands are all about looking out for themselves. What a great lesson to pass on to the kids.

They are the ones that have taxpayers pay the cost of their own Union President. That is so piggish it is beyond belief!

ASD does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. Charters get better academic results and run surpluses with reimbursements at the same per student cost as the school district. Private and parochial schools are able to do a better job at a fraction of the cost.

If anyone should be showing up with pitchforks, it should be the taxpayers. They're the ones getting ripped off.

Anonymous said...

To Mrs. Bauer's suggestions, I say go for them all. But the time to make them - and implement them - is well before we're talking about a preliminary budget.

Land doesn't get sold overnight, and merging schools will take time. Some of the others might be accomplished in much shorter periods of time.

But she shouldn't wait.

She should start suggesting them at the next meeting. Quantify the savings associated with each proposal.

As MM has written, this is an annual event. Teachers and some school board members need to stop acting like the obvious result is somehow shocking. They should know better than that.

Mrs. Bauer should make sure that every meeting over the next year has several of the items she mentions on the agenda for discussion and vote.

She might not save the jobs she'd like to this year, but she can start working on reducing next year's job cuts.

Michael Donovan said...

Michael M. I never, ever have stood on protocol when it comes to making public policy because often policy has been made by the few to benefit the few. In this case, education policy is not made at a meeting on a Thursday evening. It is made in tough, open, collaborative discussions that occur over time among competing parties who eventually come to agree on common goals. In my decade spent in the Valley, I rarely see this among those in charge, unlike what I have experienced elsewhere. While I was on council, I was often told to go back to New England because I talked about policy concepts that were not practiced here (but should be). Of course, I know about rules governing budgets. It is what does not happen before being forced to such a vote that is galling. By the way, I support Ms. Gerlach because she has the ultimate goal in mind -- education. It is up to those who worry about the money to understand that it will take political pull at higher levels to achieve the ultimate goal. As long as we encourage people to spend hundreds of dollars on "Eagles" tickets and then call the children in this city, "skum," we have a problem. Finally, online education is not all that it is cut out to be.

michael molovinsky said...

michael d, if i can gently say, i wish you had made those kinds of "principled no" votes on city council, for which you now praise ce-ce. although i personally like everybody commenting here; you, joanne, ce-ce, contrary to joanne's comment, armstrong and zimmerman have been consistently defamed on their facebook pages, even by some asd teachers. there has also been consistent praise given our harrisburg representatives for playing the white knight game. finally, i see the asd cyber school initiative as a better alternative than private cyber school; sort of a magnet school counter effort without the expense of brick and mortar.

Chris Casey said...

Mike - I believe when Public School funding was first envisioned, there was no mention of funding for Athletics. You paid taxes so the kids were EDUCATED. So I have an easy solution. Make all Sports "CLUBS" and let them be Parent Supported with their own money. No more Salaried coaches or million dollar turf replacements. You ever wonder what the folks who originally backed public education would think of the ridiculous spending on athletics ahead of education? If the School board really wants to show some guts, bag all athletics and put that money into the classrooms, not the gym or J Birney Crum. There are limitless careers for educated youngsters, but very few for athletes. As someone who had to work in High School to pay for all my own sports equipment and sold raffle tickets to buy uniforms, I am sickened by the largesse exhibited at the ASD in the sports dept, as well as others. (Buying new office furniture? Really?) Get the priorities in order. Educate the kids for life in the real world, not a fantasy one.

lisa figueroa said...

Sadly, the people holding the purse strings in Harrisburg are, at best, ignoring us or, at worst, laughing at us, as we tear each other apart in our community and school district. As an ASD parent, taxpayer, and PTA president, I have made several, impassioned pleas, to Dr. Mayo and the Board, to find ways to mobilize teachers, parents, students, and leadership to work together to find creative solutions to the crisis we are facing. Imagine if we came together as ONE VOICE, demanding an equitable education for our kids here in Allentown. It would be incredibly powerful. Imagine if we joined with the Philadelphia community to advocate for our kids! Instead, we bicker on public and social media, waste time in school board meetings arguing about office furniture, and constantly devalue and demean teachers -- the people who do the actual work of the district! We desperately need strong, unifying, productive leadership! We are doomed without it.

Anonymous said...

Lisa,

Did a quick search of my mail box and I have nothing from you. That does not mean you did not try try. Perhaps you spoke at a public meeting. Let me then state, the problem is not that anyone disagrees on the value of a quality education but rather how we provide that in the current fiscally strapped environment. The solution I have been advocating is to go to the sourse of the problem, Harrisburg and demand they provide legislative relief. Only when they fear regular citizens over vested interests will they act. Pick up the phone and call.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Chris,

You are working on the margins. The truth is sports related costs are not a factor in the ASD's current fiscal dilema. In a low income districts like Allentown sports are very often a key motivator to academic achievement. Well worth the taxpayer's small investment.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Save the trip to Harrisburg. The problem is not funding - ASD has plenty. The people of ASD are not undertaxed, and the school district receives one of the largest subsidies given out by the state.

Until we realize that the problem is here, at both Penn Street and in our schools, the problem will continue to fester.

We need to find out why private schools can do better with less, and why charters can do better for the same amount.

It shouldn't matter if the children living in Allentown all go to charters as long as they get a quality education. Right now the charters are vastly outperforming the ASD.

As a community, we need to realize that our commitment is to making sure THAT the children are educated, not WHERE they're being educated.

Anonymous said...

5:03 -

The problem with Allentown and districts like it are more complex than most can understand.

The Allentown student body is WAY different than any other Lehigh Valley student body. Private schools, charter schools, etc. DO NOT face an equal amount of pressures. Allentown must deal with EVERYTHING thrown its way.

Allentown can't pick and choose its participants. It can't ignore kids who actually come to school blind, in diapers, or even 48 hours since arriving from a foreign, non English speaking country. It can't talk it's way out of accepting kids directly from youth prison facilities. Many young girls come to ASD because they are pregnant.

ASD, unlike charter and private schools, are bombarded with new GOVERNMENT regulations and mandates, MOST unfunded, that appear every year. ASD deals with ALL the nonsense, not just some of it.

Allentown's tax base is severely limited. The tax base is also improperly assessed. A single family home converted into a duplex DOES NOT pay two times the school taxes as it once did. An apartment building with 50 units DOES NOT pay 50 times the amount a single family home pays.

Allentown kids move in and out of the district at an ALARMING rate. A class of 30 kids in September might retain just 10 of the original roster by the end of the school year. ASD class sizes are much higher than private and charter schools.

I often refer to ASD schools as educational triage centers. It's that confused. Urban education bears little resemblance to what goes on in Parkland, Saucon Valley, Central Catholic, etc. You assume it does, but you are WRONG. You are also wrong in claiming charter school results are significantly better than public schools.

This is a REAL crisis folks. It is MUCH too simple to lay all of this at the feet of Allentown teachers.

I will also suggest you look further into the pension issue. That's a concern, but NOT the biggest concern. That concern already has been given a solution, but the early years are the most difficult as funds are needed to make up for the state NOT contributing for almost a decade while the teachers DID continue their share all through the period.

Thanks, Michael for allowing me to rant. The ASD teachers deserve a better shake the they are getting. They are the EASY target.

Fred Windish
proud ASD retiree

Pardon any typos. I don't want to go back and correct.

Anonymous said...

While I am a supporter of charter schools and believe in choice for public schools please show me the data that demonstrates your claim that charter schools vastly out preform public schools. On the other hand there is no question that they are cheaper. They are not dealing with the unions.
The solution to the current problem is not to spend more money but to re-alocate funds from a broken and unsustainable pension system and sky high benefit plans but into the classrooms. This has to be done equitably to be fair to all parties involved, the students ,the taxpayers and the teachers. Harrisburg needs to fix the pension, tweek the charter school funding formula, and Washington needs to fix the fix on health care before we are all in the poor house.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Fred,

Great post. The pension is worth investigating and anyone who does will find it has been and continues to be underfunded. They will also discover there are no longer defined payment pension plans in the private sector because they are too expensive. Public sector defined payment pensions are a huge problem and there is No fix in the works. If the private sector could not make defined payment pensions work see how well the government has done it. See how well they are dealing with the probmem they created. A huge tidal wave of expenses related to these pensions now beginning to swamp the taxpayers and our elected officails are not even talking about it let alone muster the courage to fix it.Folks,this problem is not going away,it will continue to get worse for the next several years, then stay bad as far as the eye can see.
By the way, too often when people write "teachers" I believe they mean to write"teachers'union". Big difference.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Big difference is right, but someone keeps electing the union leadership. Someone insists that the taxpayers pick up the salary for the teachers union rep.

If it's not the teachers - or at least a majority of them - that are responsible, then who?

Anonymous said...

I think too many of the teachers make the mistake of believing and trusting that their union leadership is giving them the facts. It would be in their best interest to trust but verify.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I would like to clarify my earlier rant, particularly the part about the pension problem.

I encourage those who haven't done so,read about Pennsylvania Act 120 passed in 2010. An easing of the problem, a solution, I believe, HAS been mapped out already. It will take more than a few years, though. Some years being more difficult than others, but nothing too different than certain times before all of this.

I also suggest, the possibility of teachers even lasting 35 years in the job today is GREATLY reduced, particularly in stressful situations like ASD.

All in all, the problems we see are VERY MUCH the result of too much government intervention into the process. You have to admit, we are seeing shades of this with government re-structuring healthcare, but that's a topic for a different Molovinsky column.

Fred Windish

Much congratulations to the school board members providing their views here and having the COURAGE to identify themselves.

Anonymous said...

Which school board members had the courage to vote for the cuts, and who was willing to sell out the taxpayers?

michael molovinsky said...

@5:34, i won't answer your question, or even allow the answer to appear by someone else. some people elsewhere are calling for those who voted for the cuts to be voted off the school board. one school director has barred me from his/her facebook page. these school budgets are difficult decisions. all the board members are elected and come to the table with different viewpoints. i want this post to contribute to the dialogue, not be a kangaroo court.

Anonymous said...

Joanne Jackson blocked you at Facebook because she (now) knows you're a buttinsky putz.

michael molovinsky said...

anonymous 9:03, i was avoiding naming joanne as the blocker, but since you're sending me repeated versions of this insult, let's address it. yes, she has blocked me, she also had recommended that either bill or angie villa succeed her on the school board. i believe, as do many other people on their long victim list, that the villa's engage in cyberstalking and cyberbullying. the villas are the dominant posters on a facebook page called zimmerman and armstrong out of the asd school board now. the villas slander armstrong as a racist, based on a distorted comment from someone else. joanne's a nice woman, and a dedicated member of the school board, but apparently not always a good judge of character.