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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - More on "Show us the IPS numbers"

Recall this ILB entry from August 28, 2010 quoting from an IndyStar editorial:

Longtime member Kelly Bentley, a past president of the board and a well-regarded leader in the community, objected last year to a lack of transparency in how the budget was put together and reviewed. IPS Superintendent Eugene White dismissed Bentley's concerns.

White was similarly dismissive this year after Annie Roof, who took office July 1, asked for the district's entire budget to be posted online so the public could review it ahead of the board's vote. Instead, a four-page summary was posted.

"A board member can ask for it, but I work for the whole board," White said. "The whole board didn't ask for it."

Today in the IndyStar Tim Swarens has commentary headed "New blood could give Indianapolis Public Schools a needed jolt." Some quotes:
A longtime Indianapolis Public School Board member had the audacity a few years ago to ask Superintendent Eugene White for more details about the district's annual budget. She was rebuffed.

A couple of years later, a few board members raised objections about White's plan to reshuffle school administrators. White threatened to resign if his plan was rejected. The board backed down.

It has been a familiar pattern. White made almost all of the big decisions, and often the not-so-big decisions, and he bristled when his authority was challenged. Most of the board compliantly followed his lead.

But those days came to an end Monday, when three new reform-minded members were added to the board.

The new members -- Gayle Cosby, Caitlin Hannon and Sam Odle -- join three holdovers who have shown independence but lacked a majority of votes in the past.

Now, the reformers have the numbers to drive deep change in a district that has failed for decades to meet the enormous challenge of adequately educating children in our city.

I'm optimistic about where the new board will lead the district, with or without White in tow. Odle, in particular, has the type of business and leadership experience that the board has long needed.

Yet, I also remember the optimism many of us felt when White was hired as superintendent nearly eight years ago.

Later in the story, this paragraph that with a little rewriting also could be applicable to many others in leadership positions:
In time, however, White fell into the same trap that ensnared his predecessors. There's too much denial of the many problems that still exist, and a tendency to oversell, for public relations purposes, the academic gains that have been made. There's been an unwillingness to reconfigure top administrative ranks to the extent needed. White also has long refused to accept offers of outside help to analyze the district's organizational chart and budget. All of that has combined in recent years to erase White's image as the engine of change in IPS. He now owns, and increasingly defends, the status quo.
[More] The news report from the Star, by Scott Elliot, headed "Indianapolis Public Schools power shift on school board signals change."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 8, 2013 09:13 AM
Posted to Indiana Government