Archive for May, 2009

Dr. Aldo Sicoli Inks with District 281

May 26, 2009

At the May 18th district 281 school board meeting, the board, by a 7-0 vote, approved a three-year contract for the new superintendent Dr. Aldo Sicoli.

281 Exposed thinks that the contract is both good and bad. Sicoli, who takes over on July 1, will be paid $174,000 for the 09-10 school year with a 2% increase over the next two years. That means a salary of $177,480 in the 10-11 year and a salary of $181,029 in 11-12. This is more money than what Stan Mack was making in the past three years.

On an up note, the amount of paid days off has been reduced from 50 for Superintendent Mack last year to 40 for Dr. Sicoli, which is more in line with neighboring districts. But, one thing stand outs to us is the fact that there are no performance incentives in the contract. 281 exposed believes this is a mistake. If the superintendent has incentives to do a better job perhaps we’d get better results. That’s what happens in the real world.

281 Chairman Tom Walsh called the contract, “transparent, fair, and in the best interest of students and the community.” Walsh added that the contract falls under the district’s strategic plan to “attract, develop, support and retain exceptional teachers and staff.”

Again, we welcome Dr. Sicoli to our district and wish him well. From what we have heard he has made a good impression throughout the area. You can judge for yourself whether or not his contract is fiscally responsible or not.

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Stan Mack plays Aladdin and wishes for federal money to build a school

May 24, 2009

Outgoing superintendent Mack made the press again – this time exposing his utter lack of basic economics and propensity for unrealistic, feel-good pipe dreams. Mack’s wish was profiled in the Star Tribune.

Robbinsdale schools superintendent Stan Mack is hoping to rub the magic stimulus funding lamp and get … a new school.

With less than two months remaining as superintendent before he retires, Mack is hoping the district can plug into school construction and renovation aid funds that are part of President Obama’s huge stimulus plan, designed to help rev up the recession-mired national economy. Mack said he and the school board are shooting for $20 million to $24 million, enough to build a new 1,000-student elementary school near the border of Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Center, in the northeastern part of the district.

Here’s where the lack of economics knowledge is displayed:

“The goal is to get a grant that pays for the school,” said district spokesman Jeff Dehler. “And, therefore, no obligation to the local taxpayer.”

Ahem. Mr. Dehler: Where do you think grant money comes from? The taxpayer. Even the locals pay federal taxes. It’s not free money. Now, go to the corner and sit on a stool.

Mack harkens back to the good old days of the Great Depression and tries to rescue Robbinsdale Schools a la Franklin D. Roosevelt: building a new school and creating jobs — paid for by a public works program:

“I kind of relate it to a 21st-century WPA [Works Progress Administration],” said Mack, referring to one such public works effort in the 1930s. “We’re dealing with a similar situation. The federal response at that time was to put money into projects we have benefitted from in the long term … If that’s the direction we want to go in, children should be a central part of that. … We would produce a good school for the future for the northeastern part of the district, and also produce a number of new construction jobs.”

Ahem. Mr. Mack: your new construction jobs wouldn’t hire out of work folks like the WPA did. It would hire union workers and line the pockets of your contractors. It’s not for the kids. It’s for the SEIU, the RFT, and various trade construction unions. Again, you ask the public to reward your failure to plan.

Happily, it seems the public isn’t buying what Mack’s wishing. The comments section so far is almost 100% against this ridiculous idea:

NO. You don’t get to close existing schools and then ask for new ones. If that is your planning ability in action, get out of public life please. We have to realize that structures can be updated and re-used. We have to get away from this notion that schools have to be bigger, better, newer, castles of affluence. You can teach kids in an existing structure. (and the pro sports teams need to learn the same lesson). We are tired of paying for the ego castles of the elected class.

And this reader offers an idea more grounded in reality, but not in contention because it grows student choice and not the unions:

Sell Pilgram Lane to Beacon Academy Charter Schools. 281 owns a closed building and Beacon needs a building. Stop looking at them as competition and understand that the schools share a common goal of educating our kids. Stop being afraid of them and realize that there’s room for both.

Thanks to the StarTribune for another enlightening article that exposes some dim bulbs.

Rewarding Failure

May 8, 2009

Stan Mack’s golden parachute has now been upgraded to platinum. The Sun-Post breaks down the booty “Captain Mack Sparrow” will receive:

Robbinsdale District 281 Superintendent Stan Mack will be paid $215,456 in severance benefits, plus payment of his health and dental bills for the next seven years, until he reaches age 65.

After nine years as superintendent, Mack, 58, announced in October 2008 his intention to resign, effective June 30, 2009.

The superintendent has accumulated 200 days of unused leave days, for which he will be paid $652.90 per day, or a total of $130,579.

Mack also will receive separation pay equal to half his annual base salary of $169,753, so he is eligible to receive $84,877.

The superintendent’s contract also specifies that for each year of employment, the school district must purchase one year of health, hospitalization and dental insurance coverage for the superintendent and his dependents, following retirement, up to age 65.

According to Stephanie Crosby, District 281’s executive director of human resources, Mack selected the Preferred One co-pay family plan for 2008-09 for which the premiums equal $29,220.

“The cost of insurance in coming years will be dependent on the cost of insurance for the district, the types of insurance plans offered by the district, and the status of his children and wife as dependents,” Crosby said. “He may continue with family plan insurance, or elect single or single-plus-one coverage at some time in the future.”

That health insurance benefit is $29,220 per year, folks. It is a pirate’s life for Mack, and he’s probably laughing all the way to the bank.

Golden Parachute celebration at Golden Valley Country Club

May 1, 2009

The MN Sun Post announced our options for saying goodbye to outgoing Superintendent Mack:

The public is invited to attend one or more of three celebrations on Wednesday, May 20, in honor of retiring District 281 Superintendent Stan F. Mack.

Morning celebration: 9 to 11 a.m. in Stan Mack’s office at the Education Service Center, 4148 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope. Coffee and breads will be served. No charge.

Afternoon celebration: 3 to 5 p.m. in the board room at the Education Service Center, 4148 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope. Program at 4 p.m. Refreshments will be served. No charge.

Evening celebration: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Golden Valley Country Club, 7001 Golden Valley Road, Golden Valley. Program at 6 p.m. Cost is $25 per person. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Cash bar. Send reservation and check by May 13, payable to Judy Lund at Robbinsdale Area Schools, 4148 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope.

Nice venue. While Mack celebrates his golden parachute in style, we common folk might be found celebrating his long-awaited departure down the road at Schuller’s.

Is it a mere coincidence?

May 1, 2009

Let us make one point clear; we here at 281 exposed do not believe in conspiracy theories, but ponder something if you will. Is it a mere coincidence that Stan Mack announced his retirement just a week or two before the referendum vote last fall? Is it also a mere coincidence that a facilities study was announced right after the referendum passed that recommended the closing of two elementary schools and one middle school? Imagine for just a moment if the facilities study came out in October and Mack announced that he wanted to renew his contract for another three years? Does anyone think the referendum that ripped $222 more in property taxes from the average home in the middle of a recession would have passed? Again, we don’t think this was a controlled conspiracy, it’s just something to think about.