Archive for December, 2011

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice -” ON “the BOE Agenda – Lorain City Schools

Let’s take another magical tour through the Lorain City Schools. We start by looking at the agenda for the Board of Education meeting on Dec. 14, 2011. (I promise not to go into typos and all grammar errors; those are just too much to go into.) Please be aware that this information is being provided by our Board of Education, the people who want us to support them and give them more money to spend.

On Page 5:

“It is recommended to terminate the previous Treasurer’s contract, dated April 9, 2008, and approve a new contract for the Treasurer, effective August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2016.”

This at this time is a moot point since it was tabled. BUT, did we not learn about extending contracts before they are close to expiration with our former superintendent. Remember we gave her an extension with a nice raise and didn’t link it to performance.

Page 6:

A. Job description for GEAR UP Site Facilitator
B. Job description for Associate Director of Operations
C. Job description for Grants and Accounting Manager
D. Job description for Certification Specialist (revision).

Items B and C appear to be NEW positions, sure anything GEAR UP is grant driven. Why do we suddenly need an ASSOCIATE Director of Operations? Do we need C because we don’t have people in finance who can oversee financial matters? Isn’t that part of the job of treasurer? Didn’t we have someone in HR doing that job without the title? What are the salaries attached to these positions? When are they to be filled? Too much missing information

Page 8-12: Supplemental Contracts

This leaves open so many questions. We are spending in excess of ¼ million dollars in supplemental payments to teachers for job related work. Then too, why do some supplemental contracts for production get 3 times as much as a special education teacher? Why do we have to PAY teachers to do their jobs? If they don’t want to do the extra clubs, maybe we don’t need the clubs. If they have a problem being the “director” of a musical group, maybe they don’t really need to be “teaching” music. After-all, isn’t the performance part of the evaluation of how well you taught your students to play or sing?

(Be advised that some of the supplemental amounts on Page 12 and 13 are from “grant sources”, so evidently don’t really count.)

Page 14: The dreaded “Athletic” supplemental contracts.

The ones on this agenda total $51,727.81 (there have been many others). Breaks down to 7,988.88 for certificated and 43,733.93 for non-certificated (which includes some retirees as well) Seems to me like an argument for the dreaded pay-to-participate. If we cannot “leave” the conference without monetary penalty, then it is time to tighten the belt and make athletics self-sustaining.

Page 16: Reduction in force of 12 teachers and 8 support staff.

See above supplemental contracts in excess of 250K

Page 21: “Ohio House of Representative”

I realize it is a typo, but, don’t we proofread or do we only have ONE representative in the state of Ohio?

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Treasurer be directed to spread this resolution upon the minutes of the Board of Education and that copies of the resolution be forwarded to members of the Ohio House of Representatives.”

Ok, here’s my question – How is the treasurer to “spread” this resolution upon the minutes? Does he use a blender/food processor and make some bologna spread? (After-all, all the time and energy spent taking the legislature to court to correct funding of public education got us what exactly? Of course, the Supreme Court of Ohio said “Fix it.” and that verdict has been ignored?) Or is he to “PUBLISH” this resolution within the minutes {Of course, it is already included within the agenda so . . .} of the Board of Education and “send” copies to the Ohio House of Representatives?

Stop feeding us this drivel. Give us some explanations, reasons and vision as to WHY this has to be this way. We are not stupid! We have an education and it should be sufficient enough to understand the agenda, IF, you want us to really know and understand what is going on. If you want our support, you really need to change the way you do “BUSINESS” and include us, not just feed us what you want to.

More trip highlights to follow as we continue to travel through The Morning Journal article of Dec. 15, 2011.

See you later, have to re-charge the trip batteries


December 17, 2011 at 1:02 am 6 comments

Lorain City Schools- Cut and Paste- Back to Wonderland?

And so the trial starts as Alice (Taxpayer) continues her journey through LCS Wonderland….

Reports from the media BOE meeting Wednesday Dec 14th-2011
Lorain Schools announces cuts: 27 to be laid off, more than $6M in cuts planned – Evan Goodenow
Chronicle Telegram

Branham said charter schools — privately run, but publicly funded schools that have underperformed academically in Ohio compared to traditional schools — have been a major drain on the district……..

Each student lost to charters costs Lorain Schools about $5,700 annually. In 2010-11, charters cost Lorain Schools $11.4 million, open enrollment cost the district $4.5 million and school vouchers cost it $1.4 million.

Facing a $12 million deficit, Lorain Schools is likely to implement a financial recovery plan next year that would include up to $6 million in borrowing from the state and between $6.1 million and $7.6 million in layoffs and program cuts.

Among the cuts:

•$1.5 million: Layoffs of 18 teachers and nine teacher’s aides approved Wednesday.
•$1.5 million to $3 million: Lay off 50 to 100 more employees next year.
•$947,000: Eliminate fine arts programs.
•$737,000: Reduce kindergarten to half-day kindergarten.
•$295,000: Eliminate academic enrichment programs.
•$240,000: Eliminate high school busing.

Illustration Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914) for Alice in Wonderland

Morning Journal

Lorain schools look at cutbacks, borrowing to handle deficit – Alison Strouse

A total of 10,024 students live within the Lorain School District, however, 2,432 of them attend other schools through open enrollment or vouchers. Those 2,432 students represent $17.2 million in revenue lost by the Lorain Schools because that money flows to the outside schools those students attend, according to Branham

Now I am the product of another educational experiment gone wrong $*#* NEW MATH!!!*%# and my math is not adding up if I multiply the number of “lost children ” 2,432 by the number $5,700. I don’t get 17.2 million – I get $13,862,400 dollars- there seems to be a discrepancy of $ 1,372.00 per student. Or is that just my ‘New Math” 😦

The Plain Dealer article from November 2011 has an in-depth article on ” suburban schools and charter schools” part of which states

In a January survey of ECOT students, “nearly 50 percent of those who responded said they had experienced bullying in a previous school setting,” Wilson said in an email.

Suburbs must pay for every lost student

Whatever the motivation may be, every child who moves to a charter school takes money with him. And that’s a huge frustration for districts that have lost state funding and can’t persuade tapped-out residents to vote for more taxes.

Charter schools have money complaints of their own. They get roughly $5,700 per student in basic state funding — plus special education and other targeted aid — but they don’t get a slice of local property taxes or bond issues for buildings.

Who does get that money( local property taxes etc. ) is that part of the 1,372.00 I wonder???

But the part I found most interesting was a chart from the Ohio Dept of Education Please note this chart DOES NOT reflect the 5.9 million ( open enrollment and vouchers money )

District – Lorain
County – Lorain
State Ranking – Continuous Improvement
District Enrollment – 7,585

(NOTE: Good job the chap ( Gary Brantly) that
left to go with Dr. Atkinson –
around 8,200 students are enrolled in Lorain schools. That is an increase from around 7,600 students this time last year, according to Gary Brantley, the district’s chief information officer.
Maybe he and Atkinson were the product of the new math too 😉 However, Atkinson’s math was fuzzy,


Charter schools draw students and money from high-ranking suburban districts – Edith Starzyk, The Plain Dealer

If my math is correct then the numbers are still “squiffy”…. so clarification please did we lose 17.2 million to the lost children or $13,862,400 or going by the ODE figures of $6,541.472 for Charter Schools plus the 5.9 million in open enrollment and vouchers approximately 12.4 million . HELP!!!!

I am sure there is a formula I am missing somewhere- but LCS remember the majority of us whom you will be asking to pay will be using basic math so how does this work?

December 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm 20 comments

On your knees —–Lady Stuart and I—- Chris Ritchey

The last few days I have not been able to write and to continue the series on Lorain City Schools. Oh! I could fluff a piece – copy and paste- but the situation in which Lorain City Schools finds itself is worthy of more.

People will lose their employment, programs cut, education disrupted. The situation warrants more than regurgitated ramblings from me. You see I cannot walk in that world at the moment I am figuratively emotionally on my knees.

” On your knees Lady Stuart – where you belong”

Jean Schaeffer uttered that line from Maxwell Anderson’s play, time and time again , as she was Elizabeth the 1st to my Mary Queen of Scots. Jean ( Elizabeth would bring Mary to her knees with every performance whilst bringing an audience to their feet.

I have not trodden the boards since Jean passed- there are many reasons and amongst them is the loss of desire to act and the missing of my mentor. Somehow without her presence to guide me , and guide me she did, whether she was involved in a production or not my desire has diminished to naught. I know in my heart of hearts I could give a credible performance but I would be on auto pilot going through the motions and that is what is happening at the moment with my “passion” – play of Lorain”

You go down on your knees for forgiveness, whether to your God of choice, your King , Queen , potentate , ruler . You go down on your knees to beg, to show respect, in some cultures to pray – other cultures require you to curl or prostrate yourself. Sometimes you are forced to your knees by evil, by the weight of the burden you carry. I watched my daughter fall to her knees hearing her brother was dying, we both ended up on a waiting room floor- on our knees- arms wrapped around each other clinging on to false hope , huddled in our misery and disbelief.

Knees – important things knees– I have fallen on my knees three times lately – twice due to loose gravel on the sidewalk acting like a roller skate – it is lucky my knees are padded. Last month I rolled my ankle and twisted my knee.

It hurts, really hurts and just as it starts to go from a sharp excruciating pain every time I walk to the dull ache- I am reinjured – Oh! it is my fault – I get down on my knees and to the floor to enter the world of a little boy – the magic of toys and stories played out on the playroom carpet, a myriad of worlds open to me guided by the imagination of a little boy. The pain is worth it and partially forgotten in that world of a child’s wonder.

These anniversary days of bringing one to ones knees…. You see when I found out that Angela (Marie Lombardi) Ritchey Now Murphy DO was not honoring her word to give Chris’s family their closure in our way – there was nothing I could do that day as I sat across from the funeral director. I read her words that filled me with disbelief that one who is supposed to be a healer could be so callous, cold and self-serving at such a time in a mother and fathers grief at losing their only son.

Oh! there was something I could have done , I could have fought her legally as to the breaking of a verbal contract and I would have except I was told she also could change her mind as to the cremation and her word was no longer to be trusted.- ( I am not sure she even realized she could have changed her mind – she had signed papers BUT she could have) and I couldn’t take a chance that the vindictive selfishness we were experiencing at the hands of her family would not flow over into having my son embalmed and buried – something that would have destroyed what was left of US. I know this is the way of the majority in this town but it is not our way and I am sorry again but I find the embalming ritual and all it means abhorrent and in my beliefs sacrilegious . . I would not presume to tell anyone how to deal with their dead but this is not our way -this fact was known to the Lombardis.

So from that dreadful Friday morning when cowardice,control and lack of compassion visited us from the Lombardi’s until the Monday morning – we waited terrified that my son’s body would go the way of the embalmer and the “Cadillac coffin” with a “great” seal to await for years the destruction by anaerobic bacteria.

the tight seal had let the anaerobic bacteria win the day, and the remains just… sloshed. It seems a great seal will turn us into soup

Sorry to be so graphic but that is what happens, like it or not and for us this is not to be borne – it would have sent me to my knees and I would never have been able to get up again to think of that happening to my son.

Chris on the night of sister’s wedding- one of the happiest nights of her life.

I just couldn’t let my son’s earthly remains become a toxic sludge locked in a silk lined coffin putrifying for decades, so I did nothing , said nothing until he was cremated .
I chose the lesser of the TWO EVILS

Those days 11-12- 13th of December were sheer torture but finally on the morning of my daughter’s wedding anniversary- the 14th we learned my son had been cremated. We breathed with relief that Angela and her “family” could no longer physically inflict the degradation of their “ritualistic belief” (not ours or Chris’s) on my son’s poor body – a body I formed and nurtured from my own .

As we heard the news Chris had been cremated that morning my 90-year-old mother fell to her knees with thanks . Oh! yes the grave continues to be marked by their insulting offerings of beer cans, vodka , cake and tacky tin yard ornaments
and they still fall on their knees every Sunday to pray

But the weight of grief at this time of good cheer is bringing me to my knees emotionally – this is what happens when closure is denied……..

and so I am writing from my parallel world and I am not sure when I will continue to series on LCS. However, please feel free to write your thoughts should you so desire on LCS I will be only too pleased to put them up – that I can do 🙂 .

December 13, 2011 at 12:35 am 4 comments

The not so “secrets of the garden”- Lorain- Part one


My mind and therefore my brain is in another place these past days – I had hoped to be able to “write” over the weekend thoughts of solutions or at least a beginning for Lorain City Schools …….. but the emotional puddle that I am has left no room for logic- therefore I have taken a walk in the garden… if anyone would like to guest blog their thoughts on LCS contact me …….

In the past three or so years- the volunteers and supporters of Charleston Village had added two new green spaces to this old neighborhood.

One is Settlers’ Watch corner of Oberlin Avenue and 2nd Street.
When visitors walk around the carvings and view the plants and wildflowers – some say weeds 🙂 they may not realize that in the seemingly lack of design ( tall at the back and lack of theme planting) the plants are actually there BY DESIGN- there are special plants for special people and reasons:
Earlier in the year we made a game out of some of the puzzles of Settlers’ Watch- Lisa from Buster’s Momma Blog- Buster’s House followed through with the 8 clues over the spring and summer .

Here are the clues:

1. Your journey of discovery begins with this clue:
From France they came and gave a Queen to Lorain

2.Don’t tread on Me! (as seen in the Garden of Eden and now in Settlers’ Watch)

3.As seen at Irving (School) , now this part of an eye blooms in a children’s garden.

4.Its family member is the pride of Scotland
but this prickly plant needs to emigrate from Settlers’ Watch.

5. Ah wistful and hysteria combined make this vine a bloomin good time

6. A tale of two vines:this one could literally blow its own horn
and the fruit of which fills the gap of women and song ( two for one 😉

7. In the garden is a flower of light planted recalling an Asian flight

8. Sunlight = night light

You can find the photo answers here.
I will expand upon the secrets of Settlers’ Watch and the reasons for the plants in the next post in the series-

Yes seems like this blog is becoming a series of series!

December 12, 2011 at 12:12 am 2 comments

The way of white….. Chris Ritchey

I have watched the dawn break once more this morning- not with rosy pink clouds but with a softening of white- the first snow brings with it heartache magnified.

I will be letting the schools series perk over the weekend as I am dealing with an avalanche of emotions… Loraine

December 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm 9 comments

Lorain City Schools- what will it take Lorain?- the emails

It is apparent to me just how uncomfortable people are to “speak” – it is a fact – and considering on this December 7th – I am reminded how dear the cost paid for the right to speak freely and yet …………………

However, I have put down some of the questions / observations that have come directly to my personal inbox.


– ‘sharing’ rather than ‘reporting’ to the public honestly about all general fund monies and how they are spent. Sharing with the public regarding all grants, and why they ‘match’ goals for our school district…if not apply for one that does. (in order to that the district should have ‘clear’ goals- first, then apply for grants and have programs that support those things).


This ‘could’ be a time to start over and ‘rebuild’- honest dialogue , painful though it may be .


I have been informed there are “empty classrooms in some locations ( Masson?) while some teachers have no teaching space- if true, someone from Charleston needs to walk through these building and take inventory.


When the ‘cuts’ occur how will this happen. Will some programs be ‘gutted’ to save others in their ‘entirety’?


Will special community interest groups continue to have favoritism?


Shouldn’t we try to instill a “love of reading” rather than reading to a test?


The schools keep asking for more money . I just don’t have the money! Stop trying to blackmail me using the students!


Too many problems to be fixed any time soon and under Dr. Atkinson too much micromanaging. The morale at Charleston was very low. Ask a question and you would be seen as an “enemy”.


How many of the new school building have leaks and problems?



to be continued ………

December 7, 2011 at 11:41 am 4 comments

Lorain City Schools- What will it take- The Ugly (My Ugly)

Part One – The GOOD

Part Two – The BAD

I have said for many years that I am a surface dweller when it came to the “business” of Lorain City Schools. Why?

I live in Lorain- lived across the street from a “neighborhood school”- had two children that needed to be educated- I was and am still an “involved” parent – and yet I know very little about Lorain City Schools. So what happened that someone with that curriculum vitæ becomes a surface dweller?

Lorain City Schools happened! I won’t go in-depth as to situations but a short history. AND as usual there are names, witnesses to all events mentioned.


My daughter and her little friends crossed the street every morning to go to “their school”, Irving – all was well – through kindergarten until 2nd grade. The little “girls” who lived on this street and played Barbie’s and Strawberry Shortcake started not wanting to go to school- two even developed stomach issues and would stand crying by the fire hydrant every morning as they lined up to go. They went to Dr.s and finally it was determined they were just plain scared to go to school.

It was a long detective story, finding mothers standing outside and under the open window of the classroom to eventually find the problem. The “teaching style” of their 2nd grade teacher including accidental hairpulling when “her ” bracelets kept getting entangled with the children’s hair. The three little girls were scared they too would become the victim of the bracelet and her wrath.

The mothers met with the principal – the issue was not addressed the “swept under the carpet” and the “blathering”
“children misunderstand – great teacher yada- yada- yada”.

We, the mothers, handled our children’s fear in alternative ways but the damage was done. I used wonder what happened to those children who didn’t have mothers who stood guard. Eventually two of the little girls left the LCS system.

2. My son also crossed the street and went to Irving- 2nd grade he was found to have a reading problem but there was a solution- they had a lovely grant for a special “reading” program. I watched, attended conferences and his reports were showing improvement by being in the program- leaps and bounds.

This program continued when LCS moved the neighborhood kids to other schools. My son went to Lakeview – where the infamous 2nd grade teacher had transferred- to the 3rd grade ( of course even though I met with the principal and said – I don’t wish the teacher to be involved with my son– well you guessed it he came home and I said who is your teacher???????- ignored again and more meetings with the school!

3. HYPE The dismantling of the neighborhood school for magnet programs – In my other life I was extremely involved with theatre and dance – I went to the open house for the “arts program”. I was dismayed at what was being “touted” – I knew too much

One person recently, whose children had gone through that program, said to me _ Oh it was wonderful my child gained so much– but as I said :

“And just what did you or they have to compare it with?

“Bubble Gum ballet” and “community theatre” hardly equate to “training in the arts”.

I am not being an art’s snob here -just stating a fact – there is and was a difference- the arts program that I saw that first couple of years before I “left” Lorain City Schools was amateurish at best.So I decided NOT to camp out in a parking lot and leave my daughter where she was across the street.

ED NOTE: Things may have changed later on in the program – I know one or two people who went on having discovered the love of theatre in those “pods” but what happened eventually to the programs???

4. SAFETY CONCERNS 3rd Grade Lakeview- the fact for a week the Lorain City Schools system bussed the children of this street and lost them, didn’t pick them up at the corner they stated they should be or the time – it was a mess- put them on wrong busses drove them all over town. Mothers were frantically calling for that one week trying to sort things out and the buck kept getting passed- kids were blamed – parents blamed – the problem was not addressed. The children suffered that week, nothing was done to alleviate their fears. It was once again the child that paid the price whilst the “professionals tried to get it right”

In fact, after trying to drop my son off by Lorain Community Hospital a small riot broke out on the bus- my 3rd grader Chris – refused to get off the bus until they took him and his friend Michael to his house . As I was on the phone to the Superintendent at nearly 5 o’clock demanding to know where my child was, when a bus load of screaming, crying neighborhood children drew up outside my house- I held the phone out the window so they could “listen” to those children and what they had done- finally something was done but . Michael never rode a bus again, transferred out to a system where his daddy worked – and I drove my son to Lakeview.
The case of the live ammunition 3rd grade Lakeview once again – a husband banging the hell out of the washing machine which was “stuck” because of something that was caught- it was a bullet in fact more than one that had fallen out of my son’s pockets apparently -( who thinks to check for live ammunition in the pockets of a third grader?)

” my friend gave it to me at recess “

Obviously we went to the school,because the concern was – if a 3rd grader had access to live ammunition what about the gun that went with it.
I was fobbed off with a speech about

home conditions etc etc. parents not there, complaint could be seen as discriminatory due ethnic background, we are at the beginning of court ordered desegregation, this could be seen as detrimental to the process-yada yada yada….

Actually looking back I don’t know WHY I didn’t make more of an issue but my husband was all for letting the school handle it.

Of course this was also the time that “gangs” were coming into the schools in a big way and that too was being ignored. Living in this neighborhood you tend to know what is happening. The community was placated with

“oh! just harmless wanna be’s”

…we knew better we watched the “after school fights” on 6th 5th and 7th! Painted over the gang graffiti – I actually spent one afterschool protecting some kids in the middle of 4th street whilst waiting for the police – standing up to these “wanna be’s”

We jump ahead -LCS moved the kids back again from Lakeview to Irving. My daughter had by this time left Lorain City Schools- the children of her neighborhood went to other schools, some within the system and others outside the system.

Unfortunately, the children she had been left to attend class with were unruly, disruptive and many had problems. It took a lot to get my husband to agree to send her to the new junior high class opening up at Lorain Catholic High School. We weren’t Catholic- we weren’t wealthy but after a few disturbing incidents he agreed.
My daughter had been an A student but tested in and was C at LCHS and had to do extra work to “catch up”.

In the meantime Chris ( now in 5th grade at Irving) was being “attacked” at school – Chris had a temper and a strength belied by his appearance at the time . I was frightened HE would be the one doing the damage. But after I literally stood and watched two eighth grade “yobos” attack my son in front of me . I told him do what you have to do- he did and HE got detention but they didn’t touch him again.

Ignoring the situation until it escalated to a point where a child paid the price again

In the 5th grade, 5.5 to be exact, I was very concerned about Chris’ reading ( knowing he too would be going to LCHS) although his reports gave him solid C’s and B’s I was worried- Nikki an A student going to a C at LCHS -what would happen to my C student? I didn’t realize that grant driven programs had to show positive results to receive further funding – my son was being passed through– I took Chris to be tested privately :

In Grade 5.5 Chris tested as having a reading level he was reading at a grade 1.2 level… comprehension 2.5. vocabulary 4.9

We also found out that his temper was also part of the problem he felt “stupid”- why? because a grant driven program had to “show results” (that is my opinion anyway) and a child was the price- For three years Chris went to a tutor to “catch up” at our expense .

Now you know why I am a surface dwellerI left Lorain City Schools- You could say this is ancient history of past administrations etc. etc. BUT as I see it – we are still dealing with the same problems I dealt with when I was “involved”

“hype – disconnect- ignoring problems – dependent on grants – lack of thinking out the repercussions of one’s actions , and parents who care leaving the system “


Worrying to me is how many children slipped through the cracks in the years of “low scores”. How many children were the victim of stats ………..and those stats work both ways – because the mothers that “walked ” took with them not only their children but LCS has also lost the grandchildren.

Well that is MY UGLY What is YOURS? How can we fix this ?


December 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm 22 comments

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