In case you haven't heard, the Howard County Board of Education passed it's FY17 budget yesterday. But, as Superintendent Foose promised, the FY17 budget process is still not yet over! You might think it would be, what with FY17 starting on July 1, but no! As the article describes, the Superintendent is going to go back to the County Council this fall in order to request the shift of funds between various budget categories?
Does anyone really think that this process will go any better than the HCPSS's budget process has gone to date? No, didn't think so. I believe that we can expect the same evasiveness to questioning, the same telling of half-truths, the same lack of transparency we have come to know the leadership of the HCPSS to display. And, at the helm of it all, the recently reappointed (soon to be deappointed?) HCPSS Superintendent, Renee Foose.
This entire episode has gone beyond the pale, and kinda stopped being amusing. Our school system, which boasts thousands of proud educators and other employees, has become a laughingstock. The HCPSS is not a workplace where people have a variety of opinions in response to the question, "How's your job going?" No. Every single person I talk to, who's employed by the HCPSS, be they teacher, paraeducator, administrator, Central Office staff-- every single one I have asked tells me it sucks. It's horrible. You can visibly see the air expel from their chest and their shoulders slump. Morale is terribly low. And with morale so poor, can a degradation in the quality of education Howard County's children experience be far behind?
Many people think Foose is already looking for a new job. Others are seeing a 2017 where Foose may be terminated by the new school board, which will precipitate a battle royale waged by foose for her nice severance package. And while I am not one of those who believe that, should Foose be relieved, that we will be unable to find a professional education executive to come to HoCo as the next Superintendent, it is fair to ask the question: Could we have seen this coming? Were there signs way back in the halcyon days of 2012?
I posed that question on my personal Facebook page and someone posted this article. Wow. Very ironic was this quote from Dr. Foose: "I believe communication and collaboration, to make sure that we are communicating and collaborating with all stakeholders, that's important, making sure all voices are heard. Community groups, PTAs, the business community, as well as making sure our internal stakeholders are heard."
Here are snapshots of what people-- many of who are very active in the education or civic community in HoCo, but some who are not, thought. I didn't ask anyone if it's OK to share their names, so I'm not, but if they want to attribute themselves in the comments to this post that's OK:
"We need someone who has spent the majority of their educational career in the classroom. I hope we have learned some lessons about careerists who are not invested in the community."
"That's how it used to be in HoCo. People worked their way up the ladder within the system. I'm sure there were times we could have benefited from outside experience, but for the most part, it worked well."
"Historically, locally grown leaders are much more accepted by this community. Just saying."
"Her attitude is "I don't want (t)o hear it." She is short-sighted, long winded, and doesn't have a vested interest in etc community It is sad. What she is doing to Waverly and other elementary schools is a crime"
"She never impressed me and I knew she was a mistake. She has proven me right. Her attitude towards our teachers and the parents show she isn't right for HoCo. We already have too many in the central office and she wants to add more plus cut in the classroom."
"I remember the search firm (Ray and Associates, who should definitely NOT get the job next time) asked whether it was important a superintendent had teaching experience. In our meeting, which was open to anyone, HCEA said yes. Now I wish we'd have added that it is far more important for a person to have a record as a superintendent. As the above article shows, the person hired in 2012 could talk the talk with the best of them."
"One thing I can say for Dr Foose is that she's doing what she believes is right. She's hard working, intense and wants to do good. Anybody that thinks she wakes up in the morning without the best of intentions hasn't spent much time with her. That said, I'm deeply troubled by what seems to be going on among Dr Foose, the BOE, the Executive and the Council. There are severe problems that need to be resolved and quickly."
"I attended one of Dr. Foose('s) town hall(s) at CES. I have a fixed feeling of her style. But I do realize the community has a diverse opinion on her and I am not sure how to consolidate"
What do these comments reflect? Overall a sense of disappointment to be sure, and while the majority seem to have had their reservations from the beginning, some also concede that she is well-skilled for her job and is following her star. Also very telling is the desire by many to have as a next Superintendent, someone who has cut their teeth in Howard County, knows Howard County, and has experience as an educator. I admit, I'm personally not so sure that Howard County experience is necessary, though I understand the sentiment, given the Foose and John O'Rourke experiences.
What I didn't read much of in the comments to my Facebook posts were sentiments similar to mine in 2012. That the Foose appointment was a real opportunity, a break from Howard County educational hegemony, and that here was a solid person with a compelling story whose perspective would guide her in a proper direction. Boy, was I in error.
What I also see here is that when and if the next board, or for that matter, the one elected in 2018, appoints a new Superintendent, that this is going to be a big decision, with big expectations and more than its fair share of risk associated with it. Of course, because the decision brings risk doesn't mean that a risky choice has to be made. And of course, all such talk of a new Superintendent is very premature. But it is useful for us all to keep in mind that this selection process is a big one, and we'll need to elect candidates this year, and maybe again in 2018, who we will be able to trust to make the right decision.
Let's be careful out there.
#hcpss #hocoschools #hocopolitics #hococouncil