Thursday, August 28, 2008


After years of falling enrollment, the new school composed of the old Holy Rosary and St. Helena GAINED 45 students this year. Obviously the economy has gotten worse, and the demographics haven't changed all that much in the past year. I wonder what changes one could attribute this remarkable improvement?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Young faces

I was able to slip out of work to stop by the school today. One expects to see lots of new, fresh faces at the beginning of the school year, but not usually so many from the teachers. I truly wish them the best of luck this year, and hope that perhaps they will provide the genesis of a rebirth. It is one of those management quirks that when you hire someone, you often feel tied to their success.

However, the over/under of how many will be here next year from this year's class is 4.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust....

Or escaped the funny farm. One of our best lower grade teachers has exited, stage left, to the public school system...and that might not be the last one, either. Check back later in the week.

And on another ridiculous was it to have a "meet the new teachers" day from 1 to 3? I guess they don't want any working people coming by. least have it so some could possibly stop by during lunch.

But that would be encouraging more people to stop by the school....must not have that. Make the appearance you are doing something, but make it an empty gesture.

I'll post the full list of those who have left sometime over the will be interesting to see the reasons that Jacono gives. One "reason" is "left for public school system", that is where they went, not WHY they left.

UPDATE: I checked around a few websites, and Mrs. S., who was to be a first grade teacher this year, will now grace the halls of Lake Forest North Elementary school. Goodluck, and Godspeed.

What Other Schools are doing

"In a high-performing school, you're going to find highly committed parents. It's a critical piece of the puzzle," he said. "We can't leave responsibility only on the doorstep of the school."

Now, it is to the credit of HC that many of these innovations listed in the article are ones we've gotten used to. We've had the grades on-line for a few years, we've got web pages that are sometimes up to date, and we had highly committed and involved parents. I would argue that these involved parents are needed even MORE in charter and private schools because the resources are not as why shut the door on these people?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ways Bad Principals work...

Someone sent me these 10 ways bad principals operate.....any sound familiar?

1. Avoid hiring older experienced teachers who are thinkers./Keep a staff of young revolving door teachers so roots and opinions won't establish.

2. Praise conformity./Staff of Stepford teachers who won't question anything.

3. Give perks to a small group of teachers that form first line of defense against other teachers./Create a barrier clique between administration and teachers by rewarding a few good soldiers who will serve as positive voice pieces for the administration.

4. Overload with work./Create inability to complain about issues - keep too busy.

5. Limit assistance with difficult children or purposely load certain teacher with difficult children./Create inability to complain about issues keep too busy to speak out.

6. Limit support with difficult parents and create barrier between teachers and parents./Attack self-esteem so won't feel empowered and won't trust their own thinking while eliminating parent allies from forming.

7. Place children of high profile parents with teachers who conform./Avoid having parents form allies with strong teachers.

8. Write up false reports./Flex muscles so teacher will know they are being controlled and will become confused.

9. Create files with false and negative reports; create separate file in case contract requires teacher is to be informed, and keep documents out of teacher's view./Build a case against teacher.

10. Threaten- directly or through rumors or innuendo by designated staff messengers./Create wall of fear to silence teacher.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What is School Leadership?

I am once again "promoting" a comment to the front because I think it does provide a great opportunity for comment. I happen to disagree with this person's opinion on what the role of a principal is...I see it as being much more than the narrow defination the person uses.

Contrary to the posts on this particular topic, leadership is not consensus building. Running the day-to-day operations of a school in particular is the furthest thing in the world from running a customer-friendly retail store. The Principal's job is to provide an environment that is focused on student achievement which includes intellectual,social and emotional growth. The "business" of education, particularly Catholic Education is to foster Faith and independent thinking.

The best that we as parents can do for our kids is to support the teachers and the administration in this daunting task.Control what you can at home. Teach your kids to be responsible with their words and respectful of authority. But give your kids a true opportunity to be independent. Come out from behind your anonymity and demonstrate to your children what courage and change are all about!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Control? What Control?

Another of the refrains that was in the post from a few weeks ago and that seems to come back time and time again is the fact that a certain number of people (10% according to Denise, 15-20% by the survey last year) are not happy with their “loss of control.” It is a good buzz phrase, as it trips off the tongue nicely, but what does it mean?

It is another one of those phrases that as soon as one pushes back, the answers seem to disappear into nonsense. What things were “controlled” by parents last year? Were there curriculum issues that some secret cabal dictated? What issues that have been brought up were about a loss of this hypothetical control?

At best, one could stretch the concept and say that those people who contributed their time and talent in the past and are not welcome in these areas miss the “control” of helping paint, donating some food, or planting some bulbs. I am not sure who or what the control was over, or who were the "controlling" people. Can someone here help educate us ignorant 10%?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Deal Me Out

One thing that has been on the rise for the past year is the number of gambling activities sponsored by the school.

Now…there is nothing illegal about a church organization running a gambling operation…where would we be without bingo? However, I think there is a difference between a bunch of little old ladies getting together once a week for some chat and bingo or a raffle for a new car and Cheswold Charlie and Leipsic Louie coming in for poker night and stogies.

If you check out the HC calendar, you will find that we will sponsor not one, not two, but three poker nights during the first part of the year. Now, I get that this is quick easy cash. Basically, for those who are not familiar with the concept, certain non-profits can run gambling operations legally. Most go through a few organizations that put on the parties. They basically “borrow” the name of the organization and conduct the poker night, splitting the fees raised by the players and the sponsoring organization. They do all the work, minus any publicity one does, and the organization gets a cut for doing nothing.

Last year the school ran a football poll that was probably on the borderline of legality, and did run a poker night in conjunction with the KofC. Seems that the trend of relying on gambling for funds is spreading…while admittedly legal, does anybody else feel a bit uncomfortable about this? What if they sponsored a Chippendale night…is there any difference?

Monday, August 11, 2008

I like Apple or Cherry, but not this kind of turnover...

A certain amount of turnover, be it student, faculty, or administration, is not necessarily a bad thing. New teachers and staff bring new methods and new ways of looking at things, and it allows administrators more flexibility in improving a school. One would even expect a bit higher turnover rate with a new principal, even if they were a combination of Mother Teresa and St. Francis. However, too much turnover is bad, as it is in any workforce, as they may require additional supervision and time to get to know the system.

Holy Cross will be a different school this fall. There will be unprecedented levels of turnover at the student and staff level. The latest figure is that from last September, we will have had 22% turnover of the teachers and staff, which is a figure that should raise alarm even among the most ardent Jacono supporters.

22%, people! Now, I know some of them may or may not have been people’s favorite teachers, and some probably needed a nudge…but most were very good people, and good teachers or staff. In any case, they did not deserve to be treated…in some cases, being told in front of people to start looking for a new job….LAST SEPTEMBER. Now, this person was one of the better ones we lost and has gotten an excellent position elsewhere, so I am glad for them.

I hope the new teachers and members of the staff are treated well, and do well. Often when some types of bosses hire employees, they treat those who they hire better. Maybe Denise will feel better with more of “her” teachers and staff working for her, and she’ll feel less inclined to yell at them in staff meetings and in front of kids. Maybe she won’t refer to them as embarrassments to the school and the diocese as much…

And maybe we will not have almost a quarter of the teachers and staff leaving next year.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Decisions, decisions

I’ve decided to address the issues in the posting below separately. It will keep it shorter, and give people the opportunity to comment on the individual topics.

The first one is the refrain that keeps coming back, and that it is all about people not agreeing with the decisions that have been made. While some decisions have been admittedly bad, people accept that many decisions are a judgment call. If a good decision making process was followed, and the decider stands up for the decision, most people will accept it, even if they don’t agree with it. What irks people about Denise is that it appears that these are simply missing, or her flip-flopping on what she said was reason behind the decision when challenged. Maybe she doesn’t want to or doesn’t feel the need to communicate why she does something, but when it is our money, our kids, our school and our church, we are owed that.

As an example, take the switch in uniform companies. I thought Flynn and O’Harra did a pretty good job in producing a quality product at a fair price. Uniforms were available for pickup when they came into the school, and their mail order turn-around was fantastic. Her decision to switch companies is hers to make and could be based on a number of factors. It could be that the school is getting a bigger kickback, er, “contribution” from the uniform company, it could be that they are cheaper, or it could be that she prefers the salesman of one company over another.

When it was discovered the Flynn and O’hara contract had been terminated, and Denise was asked about it, she sputtered and stammered a few different tales, some quite amusing. She claimed one time that it was about a kickback, er, “contribution” that somehow had gotten lost at Holy Cross after Flynn and O’hara sent it and they did not tell them the check was not cashed. Another early one was somehow implying that Flynn and Ohara had cancelled the contract, which is totally ridiculous. One can still buy the higher quality uniforms from Flynn and O’Hara, so why would they cancel the agreement where the school agrees to purchase their uniforms from them?

It is especially telling that her old school went back to Flynn and O’Hara as soon as she left. Also telling was the fiasco with the new company and the gym uniforms...remember how they were falling apart, logos fading quickly after washing?

Even more interesting was that her old school decided to have Flynn and O’Harra gives the 10% kickback, I mean contribution, directly back to the parents. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A DIfferent Point of View

Being the fair minded person that I am, I am publishing one of the anoymous comments that were below...It is a pretty good summary of those who defend her, and I thought it worthy of posting, and does have some good points.....

I have such a heavy heart reading all of the negativity surrounding HCS and the principal. Can any of you posting your negative comments truly say you have walked in her shoes? How many of you have ever gone into a new position, whether it be a paid position or voluntary and have been overwhelmed by all that there is to do that you don't know where to start? AND there are new fires being started daily that have to be addressed in addition to putting out OLD fires? Where do you start??? Who and what do you address first???

I think the principal has done a pretty darn good job at juggling some of those responsibilities in addition to learning the names of many of the 600+ students AND making much-needed changes to the school ! Sure some issues may have fallen through the cracks, but geez, who has the time & energy to stand there and criticize each time one does?How many of you have stood in an auditorium or church sanctuary and have had to face parents who have publicly crucified you without remorse? She has had the courage to continue when many others, probably even some of you, would have given up. How many of you here can truly say you would have stepped into her position and absolutely, positively would have done a PERFECT job? Sure, she may have made mistakes along the way but who hasn't? And changes that have been made that you may not agree with boil down to simply a difference of opinion. But those changes don't require crucifying someone over. Your frustration & anger appears to stem from a loss of "control" at HCS that you disguise as "voicing your opinion". Put your kids in a public school and see how much access you have to the school and how much your voice is heard with regard to policy and administration.

How many of you can say that you have truly been behind the scenes in the classrooms, in the hallways and in the office and seen her in action? How many of you have been a fly on the wall and heard her hashing out all of the issues that HCS faces trying to find the best solution - solutions that will satisfy parents, students, administration and still meet budget? I can guarantee that not many of you have been anywhere within those school walls and been privy the discussions surrounding these issues! So what gives you the right to judge and criticize based on heresay, rumor, and speculation? Put your energy into something more productive. You are the ones giving Holy Cross a bad name by posting all of this junk on the internet and calling it your "First Amendment" right. Have a little class."We judge others by their actions, yet we would like to be judged by our intentions."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pedophile Paradise

The title above was used to describe Holy Cross School, usually while looking around at disgust. It was used both in front of parents and in front of teachers on more than one occasion.

Now, I can think of a bit of “shock value” to such a charge, but I also think it totally irresponsible of a person to make such a statement. If true, then the place should be shut down immediately. It was not used in the context of what should or should not be done, but more of a general indictment of the school.

Granted that it might be a call to action if there actually was real issues to address, but does anybody think the use of such terms by a elementary school principal is ever appropriate?