Monday, January 9, 2017

Since  I got a comment on our favorite former principal, I thought I'd provide an update...keeping the blog somewhat relevant for another 5 years or so.

Catholic Schools are in trouble, but that is probably indicative of the Catholic Church as it was. Catholic school enrollment continues to drop, and now Holy Cross is under 400 students; it was at 700 before the Great Unpleasantry darkened the school. However, it is likely that the numbers would have dropped, although maybe not so precipitous...she just was ahead of the trend.

Catholic schools in Delaware were at over 11,000 when she got here, and dipped below 9,000 the year that she left. In fact, the year she left, and the year after that saw the biggest drops in numbers. While such figures do point to a larger problem, it is important to note that the decline in statewide figures were high at 5.9%....under her watch (and even the year afterwards) there were drops of 15 and 20%. Quite an accomplishment.

The bleeding continues...in 2014, the numbers dropped under 400 for the first time, but they recovered last year to be over 400...but they are back under 400 this year. Due to changing demographics and competition from private schools (who are showing increases in enrollment), it is doubtful that Holy Cross will ever see pre-Jacono numbers again.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Okay, I'm shocked. While I knew that Denise Jacono was creating a poisonous atmosphere in the school, I can't believe how quickly the school seems to be recovering. Teachers are happy, parents are happy, even the kids can fell the cloud has passed. Heck, I think even Msgr. Dan is in a better mood.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Let the Pigeons Loose!

And now....The end. Our long nightmare is over! Denise Jacono has left, and joy and light have returned to Holy Cross!

Not surpringly, Denise Jacono has left Holy Cross School, perhaps as she came..."fired with enthusiasm." The cover story is, of course, that she "resigned"....yeah, right. Resigned less then a month to go before school starts? Her departure wasn't exactly on good terms, regardless of what the letter says, but the response was joy and dancing in the halls of the school. To those who have blindly accepted every cock and bull story the school has handed out (amazing how many teachers left "to spend more time with their family"), I'm sure you'll find a way to spin this, but people don't leave school positions the month school opens up...and leaving "immediately" is never a good sign in the corporate world, let alone the academic one.

I gave her 3-4 years when she got hired, figuring that she would get the benefit of doubt a few years, and that the administration would feel forced to back her after getting rid of previous principals, in part, by parent pressure, and they didn't want to be seen as surrendering once again.

I'm not sure what was the final straw. I'm guessing that there was certainly a financial aspect to it, but I hope that it was that the administration finally ran out of being able to deny that there was a problem. Even this year, even with this blog, even with the history, I heard parents reporting Msgr. Dan giving his immortal words, "that is the first I've heard of that," whenever any complaints were brought to him. This spring's action proved that the issues that first appeared a few years ago were NOT the work of a few malcontents, or those who "didn't get their own way."

Denise Jacono's reign of error is over. She alienated every major constiutant of the school, she ruined the great parental involvement we had (and tried, at first with lip service, then half-heartedly, and then in desperation, to bring it back, adding to her woes), and the school is worse off than when she left. There is no way to get back those who left, and she leaves it dangerously weakened in an enviornment where academic expectations are increasing, and support of the Catholic education system is decreasing. I hope for the best, but at least there is now hope.

Monday, April 4, 2011

And now...layoffs

Got a notice someone posted on the blog - odd, and I assume it is the spouse, but they were asleep. Later, another comes in. I've been hearing rumblings, and thought it worth looking into, and WOW. Holy Cross School has announced layoffs for next year - 5 teachers and some staff (no, not Denise). Some of these are "for a year or two"....and if you believe that, I've got some swamp land behind the ELC to sell you. The reason given is the economy, which one can't totally ignore, but there are many other factors going into this - none good for the long term health of Holy Cross School. I would be a bit more accepting of the company line if they hadn't stopped asking people why they left about the time Denise came on board. Can't imagine why. No, this is a bit more then that. This is the beginning of the end of the school (and apologies to those who think the ending started with the closing of the high school), and I guess you've got the right person in place to oversee the collapse of a school. You'll see more changes, more layoffs, more cutbacks, more and more desperate fund raisers (tough to see how they can get more desperate, though), and finally...the end. I mean, really....if you start trying to cut back on the school lunch program, already woefully inadequate compared to the public school system, or latch-key, you'll see less and less people considering Holy Cross as a school. Hell, even announcing these layoffs will cause some to think twice about starting their kids at Holy Cross. Now, there is a move afoot to save some teachers, but I think it is a fruitless task. First, if they are cutting that many, it means either enrollment really has dropped off, or the church subsidy has been cut. If you save Mr. or Mrs. "x", someone else has to go. Further, you might want to check around before you try to "save" these people too hard. I ran into one of the targeted teachers about a month ago, and they weren't happy, even then. Although they didn't come out and say it, they were not planning on returning to Holy Cross, even then...the enviornment had gotten too poisionous, so you might just be pulling the rabbit out of the briar patch if you try to "save" them.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A lot has happened in a year...

As many of you have most certainly figured out, the Quiz quit, as did every member of the masthead, at some point over the past 2 years. Some of you have questioned as to when I quit, guessing that maybe it was before the end of the year. Maybe, maybe not...

It wasn't an easy decision...no, scratch that. It was an easy decision. I'm re-reading the words of someone who left a year ago, and I agree that life is much, much better on the outside. The school system is just so much better there almost isn't even a comparison. The teachers have more resources and seem to have more up to date methodology with a much stronger academic program then I expected. I think HC is still one of the best private schools in the area, but that means less and less the more I see of the other private schools.

While there isn't anywhere near the family atmosphere that used to exist at HC, it is still a much more professional feeling in the public school system. The after school programs, both the sports and non-sports programs, are so far ahead of HC that it almost isn't fair to compare them. The schools are cleaner, parking and driving is better, and the lunches are nutritious and tasty.

Now, I do hear of things happening at HC, and was tempted at times to write, but as my sources left in droves, it left me without a whole lot of background information that I could flesh out the postings. Sure, many of the things I've posted have come true, as turnover of teachers and children continues at an unprecedented rate, academic scores are dropping, teachers are unhappy, evaluators are coming in, the PTO had a problem finding officers (even more so than normal), but my heart was no longer in the blog. I continue to hear stuff on Sundays at church, but it really began to fall into the "IDK" mode once I decided to leave. HC being HC, I can't avoid the conversations, but it just didn't matter too much, anymore.

With that beings said, I'm hoping that the current review of the environment of the school comes up with some solutions - that they brought in outsiders for this affirms that there is SOMETHING rotten in Denmark, has been there for a long time, and isn't simply the work of a few agitators. There was, and is, something fundamentally wrong at the school, and it will continue to spiral downward until changes are enacted.





Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In Sadness

Losing any member of the family is not easy, and Mr. Mike Dawson was certainly a unique member of the parish. I've known Mike for at least 10 years and he will be missed.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mr. President

Nice summer off...always great to take time off and get some perspective. Not sure how much I'll be writing this year, but I'll shoot for the same quality, as usual.

However, you may see a shift in what I write. Today, for instance, I'm calling out those who flooded the office with frantic calls about the President wanting to talk to the kids about those well known liberal values of studying hard and staying in school. Do you realize how much of a whack job you look like?

I'm not a great fan of Obama, but there are those on the right (and HC is full of them) who seem unable to muster the brain cells to debate the issues logically. There are issues that can be, and should be, debated loudly, but people prefer to huddle about conspiracy theories such as the whole birther thing and now this.

Here is what I think - people are afraid that Obama will have a positive influence on their kids, and this one 30 minute speech will undo everything they've said for the past year about him. He'll seem calm, reasonable, humorous...and will not say anything that they haven't heard before.

Not sure what the school's plans were, or are after this outbreak, but if I was a kid, I'd be mainly annoyed you are taking my lunchtime away.