My previous blog post referred to the notice dated May 2 on the District of New Berlin Web site, which said, “The school board is finalizing a succession plan for the position of the superintendent”
Succession? That word brings to mind royalty or rulers.
The New Berlin Board of Education (BOE) chose to keep the community in the dark about their plan and who they intended to hire to replace Superintendent Paul Kreutzer—until the May 9 School Board meeting at which they appointed a new superintendent (start date July 1) and disclosed their choice was Joe Garza. This is not an “interim” appointment. According to a New Berlin NOW news article, Garza has been given a two-year contract and will be paid $150,000 (salary). The additional cost of his fringe benefits—no doubt a hefty sum—was not mentioned in the article. It is a promotion for Garza, the district’s assistant superintendent since 2007.
In 2007, the New Berlin BOE hired Dr. Paul Kreutzer as its superintendent despite his limited superintendent experience which consisted of serving as superintendent of North Lake, a very small District of just one school (a K-8 school), no high school, and a student enrollment of approximately 400 students. And now the BOE has chosen to replace him with Joe Garza who has never been employed as a district superintendent?
Garza is a long-time friend of Dr. Kreutzer. Kreutzer and Garza worked in the same school district years ago. New Berlin NOW reports that School Board member Art Marquardt, who was on the team that brought Kreutzer to the district in 2007, acknowledges that the Board knew at that time that Kreutzer would only be with the district 4-6 years. Who knows what Garza was told or promised when he joined the New Berlin district to work under Kreutzer.
The current BOE chose Garza for the superintendent post unilaterally—without community involvement in the selection process. Garza may have the Board’s support, but what about the staff, parents, students, stakeholders? Part of the reason for involving the community is to garner support for the person who’ll be running the schools. But this school board deemed community input and involvement unimportant in this matter and opted to not seek it.
It appears the BOE settled on Garza and did not actively advertise / conduct a search statewide, regional or national, to seek applicants. Had the BOE opened up the process to both internal and external applicants, it's likely they would have had the pick of more than one qualified candidate, improving the odds of getting a top talent for this important administrative position.
What reason does the board offer for not doing that? It argues it did not engage in a search because of the expense and because the board wants continuity. Nice spin. But seriously?
Isn’t this a District that spends funds for what it considers really important like the nearly $200,000 on a PR campaign to plaster the Expect Excellence logo or motto on district vehicles, business cards, email addresses, web site, plastic water bottles, etc and for installing expensive surveillance equipment at the high schools as a “deterrent”?
The board contends it wants continuity? Well, for themselves, maybe. Note how Superintendent Kreutzer politicized his job by going to Madison during a school day and standing with Gov. Walker at Walker’s March news conference to speak in support of Walker’s very controversial “budget repair” bill. Kreutzer later asserted that he was directed to do it by the New Berlin School Board (School Board officials John Kegel and Dave Maxey were at the news conference with him). Kreutzer, who accepted a job in the Katonah-Lewisboro, NY District has been saying recently that the superintendent position should be apolitical and he does not have an anti-union stance. Kreutzer rationalizes his actions by saying he “serves the board”, which appears to be his top priority in this district. Could it be the school board wants another puppet who will do their bidding even when it goes against his judgment, principles or beliefs?
And when the BOE/District says it wants continuity, they must mean for the school board, not students, parents and stakeholders.
In reality, there is quite a bit of musical chair-like activity and inconsistency in this district.
A few years ago, the BOE opted to shift Glen Park Elementary principal Glenn Schilling over to Ronald Reagan Elementary. (But he left the district before that change took effect to take a post as superintendent for the Hartland/Lakeside School District). And now---- before the BOE has supposedly decided the fate of Glen Park---- the BOE takes action to move Traci Fehrm, the principal of Glen Park, out of that school and name her Director of Curriculum and Instruction? On Monday, the Board also chose to move Royce Lindner, the assistant principal of Ronald Reagan Elementary out of that huge school and make him principal of Glen Park? And it’s moving Larry Lueck, the assistant principal of Poplar Creek Elementary, from Poplar Creek to be Director of Learning Technology? How exactly can all that shuffling be considered continunity for the students and their parents?
Supposedly, we needed all these assistant principals at the elementary schools. So, what’s changed? And previously, the BOE had decided we didn’t need a curriculum director, but now we do?
The District has gone from one District contact person for the parents of Gifted & Talented students to another in the past four years. There was Administrator Bob Scott, followed by Joan Paque, then Larry Lueck, and the current one Andrea Daniels. Four different parental contacts for G&T in four years.
On its Web site, the District posted a notice May 10 titled “ District Announces Administrative Changes”.
Changes, huh? Continuity: unchanging quality: the fact of staying the same, of being consistent throughout, or not stopping or being interrupted.
That District notice starts with this sentence, “The New Berlin Board of Education believes in the commitment to retaining the best and brightest support staff, teachers, and administrators, alike. “
Oh, like Victoria Franz, the winner of the prestigious 2010 Kohls Fellowship Award for excellence in education? She was one of the teachers the District laid off last year. She didn’t return. She went to work for another area school district.