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Rockwood Superintendent Issues Apology Letter

For those who have not received the following letter directly from Rockwood School District sources or who have not seen it posted on the district's website, the following letter was issued by Superintendent Bruce Borchers today.

June 23, 2011

Dear Rockwood Parents and Patrons,

I know many of you read the article in Sunday's Post-Dispatch and/or Bill McClellan's article in Wednesday’s paper. Let me begin by offering my sincere apology for any perception of impropriety caused by using the consulting services of two former colleagues from Minnesota and the hiring of these individuals for two administrative positions. I know you may have questions or concerns about this decision. I'd like to explain:

Open Positions
At the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, the district was without an associate superintendent and had interim placements in two executive director positions. The Board of Education made the decision not to fill these positions at the end of last school year because they and Dr. Larson agreed the new superintendent should be involved in the hiring of staff for these critical positions.

As a result, I began my first year in Rockwood without a complete team of full time administrators. We have an exceptional leadership team in Rockwood, who willingly performed extra job duties this past year because these other positions were not filled. Dr. Karen Seiber and Dr. Jill Ramsey agreed to serve in interim positions, with the restrictions placed on them as retirees from the state public school retirement system.  

Outside Consultants
Given all of the other work already in place, along with the additional work load for current staff, the Board believed it was important to provide some extra support for me as I fulfilled their expectations in conducting my Listening and Learning Tour and developing an Action Plan for continuous improvement.

The Board decided to allocate funds to me to use in implementing my vision for increasing student achievement in Rockwood.  These funds were approved in an open meeting held on Sept. 2, 2010.  I chose to use some of these funds for consultants who could assist me in creating the framework for a continuous improvement plan.  The two consultants were people with whom I had worked previously. They had a proven track record in providing the expertise and assistance I needed.

The Board was aware of this decision and unanimously approved the contracts for these individuals. The amount of money allocated to these consultants was consistent with monies allocated to other outside consultants.

New Administrative Hires
As far as the open positions are concerned, it was never the Board’s intent to leave these positions unfilled. We were fortunate to use two of our retired administrators on a limited basis this past year; but, we always knew that was for the short term.  Mr. Smasal and Ms. DuBois followed an established interview process for administrators that included interviews with parents, staff and administrators.  There was no deviation from this established process for these two applicants.

The salaries for these positions were previously established as part of the district's administrator pay plan. Again, the salaries are consistent with past salaries for these positions.

I realize the impact of these decisions and regret the way they have been perceived.  My focus for all decisions is on the students of this district and how we can help them be successful. I remain committed to our mission and to working with teachers, parents and our community in support of that mission. 

Sincerely,

Bruce Borchers, Ph.D.
Superintendent

Editor's Note: This posting is an exact duplication of the letter issued by Bruce Borchers today, and does not reflect any input or edits from the Patch staff.

Terry Biglin June 24, 2011 at 01:52 PM
The public is where the money is! Who do you think is paying these excessive salaries? Why do these two new positions have to be paid six-figures? So what if that is what those positions paid in the past! If Rockwood is having to cut their budget, don't you think high paying salaries should be cut to a more reasonable amount. These two new employees where not earning anywhere near their new salary amounts in their former jobs.
Lisa Hunt June 24, 2011 at 03:57 PM
The question still remains: Out of the 93 applicants how many were called in to have a sit down interview?
Pam Lieber June 24, 2011 at 04:03 PM
ROCKWOOD has NO money for textbooks, materials for the classes and they employ 10 people in the "PR Department"??? That makes me SICK! I hold the school board MOST accountable for all of this mess because they are the ones that are suppose to be looking out for the kids and the patrons. OUR school board for the most part for YEARS have been a bunch of crooked LIARS!! Borchers WILL get all he can steal from Rockwood and that's WRONG but the BOARD should be held ultimately responsible as they are allowing all of this to take place. I am SO sick of all this spin by the communications officer and other board members....did I actually read that Borchers was SO busy with "snow days" that he needed consultants to help out....oh....and he was busy "listening and learning"????? If this is what the "chief communications officer" came up with to make parents and patrons of the district feel like this was justified then she should be fired immediately for incompetence!! I mean , are you KIDDING ME!!!!! Do they realize how stupid that sounds??? I think all of these people have been drinking some pretty STRONG KOOL-AID!!
Raul Allegre June 24, 2011 at 04:14 PM
I disagree that it is normal for a superintendent to bring in all his buddies when he's hired. Who says it's normal practice? He's not a dictator who can clear out the administration and replace everyone with people who are loyal to him. I don't like the position of PR Czar Rockwood has either. No matter what happens in the district of tens of thousands of students, the Rockwood Communications Person is on the scene that she knows nothing about reading word for word from the approved responses handbook she has. For example, the tragic situation where a student dies and the press looks for a comment. Is the principal or teacher allowed to speak? No way! We can't have someone who actually knew the person speak words from the heart about how sad they are. Rockwood has to parachute in the Communications person out of central office to control the message that Rockwood puts out. What she says is in response to anything is 100% calculated and political and adds nothing to the story.
Steve Kasten June 24, 2011 at 05:44 PM
The Administration and Board seem to have lost their focus on what is important. Spending money for administration or teaching. I would suggest teaching is the correct focus. Do we have any teachers that make over $100,000? Do we have any administrators that make under $100,000? Think?
maine June 24, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Raul have you been in Rockwood long? Where you there when Peterson took over as super? He removed like 75% of the previous admin over a 3 year period and brought down his own people. Ask some of the old board members about this time period. I think Smith was on the board then. Ask Devenport, or Corley, maybe Fritz. When they stop laughing they might tell you about it. Peterson pushed them out and they came back as board members and got rid of him. Funny stuff. Sad because by the time it all happend Rockwood was really hurting and the best people had already been moved out.
maine June 24, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Don't forget WE are paying that person to lie and hide the facts from US. So as any fool can see, WE must not WANT to know what's going on. WE are PAYING well over$100,000.00 to the Communications Officer to keep us in the DARK and hide the truth from us. If that isn't bad enough WE also pay 9 other people, 9!!!!! to help the Com Officer keep us ignorant. If she has 9 people helping with her job, WHAT in the world is SHE doing????????????? Pam I agree, "listening and learning" is the reply??? Isn't he here to teach everyone the NEW way? Or maybe he's here to learn a new way. Into the publics pocket????
R. Woodson June 24, 2011 at 10:04 PM
@Steve Kasten - since most administrators must be certificated and come up from the teaching ranks, don't believe many teachers making $100,000+ would apply for the job if it was a pay cut and a 12 mo. vs. 9.5 mo. position. But, I may be wrong... any teachers care to weigh in?
R. Woodson June 24, 2011 at 10:09 PM
An excellent point - seems the two new admins have stepped up a couple of levels.. which makes one ask if there were not any other candidates with the requisite skills and experience in a similar role. Seems a bit risky to assume two new people from another state (different Depts of Ed and state expectations) can step up a few levels and make an excellent district better. As good as their last one maybe? Has anyone checked the Anoka-Hennepin academic results? Are they at the top of the MN state? How do their grad rates and ACT scores compare? Just wondering.
CSloan June 24, 2011 at 10:44 PM
The last time I browsed salaries, my son's (excellent) 5th grade teacher was at around $80k and she's since retired. I must agree that someone who makes $100K to communicate (with 9 helpers) should probably be able to come up with something better than a manipulative sob story about all of the time Bruce missed out on with his children this year. But it's probably my fault for perceiving that incorrectly.
maine June 24, 2011 at 11:05 PM
( I'm just joking now) You are at fault. The nerve trying to perceive and incorrectly at that. (end of joke) (now for real) That 100K is really a lot more than that, I saw the figure once and it's for sure more than 100K. It's public information, I do not know how to get it. I'm sure Patch can if they want to.
CSloan June 25, 2011 at 02:47 AM
I know Maine;) I'm always forming independent thoughts and thinking critically. I need to reread the letter from our new Superintendent and remember that those things are now strongly discouraged in Rockwood. Yes, the records are public. I don't look at them often but things like this give me a reason. THREE interviews for each of the positions. 93 applicants. Anyone want to bet we're talking about the same three people, two of them from Minnesota? What do you think, taxpayers? These hiring decisions were made on our behalf since at the end of the day BB works for US. Does this seem like a legitimate way to find good help?
maine June 25, 2011 at 06:22 AM
Sloan don't tell me, I bet your one of those "teaparty" people who actually wants others to spend your tax dollars wisely. You probably want gov to spend tax money like you spend yours, not before you have it. Next thing you know you'll be expecting your kids to recieve an education. I'm sorry but I have to correct you. The letter was from the Communications officer, it was ONLY posted by the super. I will now return you to your normal programing.
maine June 25, 2011 at 07:36 AM
I wish there was a way to get all these comments posted on stltoday and theirs over here or at least get the people reading those to come here and read these. There is so much that is not duplicated on both sites. It really should be shared.
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) June 25, 2011 at 09:55 AM
Lisa, did you already see I answered this question last night in the latest article? For each of the two positions recently filled, three candidates were interviewed, so a total of six people of the 93 applicants were interviewed.
Susan allen June 25, 2011 at 01:59 PM
It should be known that it is an Rockwood policy to interview a minimum of 3 candidate in every interview process. So the with all of the applicants, the district chose to interview the minimum. Whose to say the put the most qualified candidates up against the consultants? I have been on several interview committees as a parent and we have always interviewed more than 3. No matter how the district or the superintendent try to spin this, it was done quietly with the intent of not having many people know what was truly going on. If the superintendent, 2 new hires, and the board that made these decisions really care about Rockood and/or kids in general they will quit and allow the district to move forward. Until they are gone, Rockwood will have to endure more scrutiny and suffering.
R. Woodson June 25, 2011 at 02:22 PM
In browsing the Rockwood site, appears there is another consultant recently hired for the Gifted program evaluation. Appears in this case there were other consultants who bid the job (on the Boarddocs March 31 meeting - contracts over $7500 item 3.02). Callahan appears to be a full-time nationally known person and the scope of work is posted on the Rockwood site at: http://www.rockwood.k12.mo.us/guidingchange/gifted/Pages/InputPhase.aspx Contract is from April - December 2011 - total amount is $22,750.
R. Woodson June 25, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Anyone have any info on the Sat Board meeting?
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) June 25, 2011 at 02:41 PM
I've been reporting live from the meeting -- check the Activity Stream on the Eureka-Wildwood Patch Home page.
Dennis Broadbooks June 25, 2011 at 05:04 PM
I'd like to volunteer to head up a "grassroots" meeting in the very near future consisting of concerned RSD parents & patrons for the expressed purpose of discussing this topic & others related to RSD. Depending on the turnout, there are several locations I'm aware of where we could hold this type of meeting free of charge. My cell # & e-mail are listed under my profile. Please contact me if you're interested.
E.J. Rotert June 25, 2011 at 06:22 PM
Thieves who supposedly serve in roles beneficial to society. Tsk, tsk.
Dennis Broadbooks June 25, 2011 at 06:58 PM
I've been receiving several messages/calls % this proposed future meeting. We've even come up with a name for the group...Concerned Patrons of Rockwood (CPR). Once again, please contact me under my profile info if you're interested in being a part of the effort.
E.J. Rotert June 25, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Very fitting acronym, Dennis.
R. Woodson June 25, 2011 at 07:22 PM
You may want to make an appearance at the July BoE meeting if there is an opportunity to voice patron concerns. It's a public forum that tends to get more notice. Recently organized protests by the DARE supporters caused a shift in position. Having children present to voice concerns about budget such as teacher cutbacks and class impact is always effective. Predicament here is that there is not a good option for the BoE since they are essentially "co-conspirators. "
Dennis Broadbooks June 25, 2011 at 07:32 PM
@R. Woodson: The "plan" would most assuredly be to make an appearance at the July 14th RSD BOE meeting. The purpose of the CPR meeting would be to flesh out all the specifics & concerns RSD parents/patrons have on this topic. The meeting would be held prior to the RSD BOE date.
maine June 26, 2011 at 06:11 PM
So now the story dies, and they win. Back to what they were doing before.
R. Woodson June 26, 2011 at 07:41 PM
maine - notice Dennis B's posts above - he offers an opportunity to participate in a process "for the expressed purpose of discussing this topic & others related to RSD."
CSloan June 27, 2011 at 02:08 PM
I wouldn't say the story is dead at all. It made the Sunday PD, and comments were active well into the night last night. Dennis' offer is a way to stay organized and make sure Borchers' wishful thinking about the "focus" doesn't come true.
Mike Geller June 27, 2011 at 02:12 PM
This story is not dead... I promise.
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) June 27, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Please return to Eureka-Wildwood Patch for continual and future coverage of this topic. I was the only journalist who reported live from Saturday's Rockwood board of education retreat, and that was on the news site as well as Patch Facebook. Additional, actual articles will be published.

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