"I've been on the board seven years now, and it takes a lot of time, and I am frustrated with the direction the district is going," Kurtz says.
Certainly this does nothing to help the board's image, which was recently assessed by consultant Gayle Holliday. Her conclusion? Surprise! It's bad.
This brings us to Image Problem #1: meddling. How will Superintendent Bernard Taylor fix the district when he's at the mercy of a notoriously intrusive (yet image-conscious) board? For example, take his latest to-do list, which board members assigned at their June 5 meeting: By next spring, Taylor has to figure out how to have all eight of the district's high school graduations on different nights in a single week (except Sunday) so Al Mauro can attend them all. Then there's Duane Kelly's requests. The ponytailed, gray-bearded man told Taylor: "Northeast doesn't have an ice machine. Can you make sure they get one?"
Taylor replied, "Mr. Kelly, perhaps that should be handled at the building level. They have their own budget."
Then Kelly demanded caller ID on every phone in every school because "if the CIA and the FBI and 911 have it, our schools ought to have it. They're getting bomb threats every day."
Taylor got off easy.
As Kelly strode into the auditorium at 1211 McGee, he dropped a longer list, and it blew into a Pitch reporter's briefcase. It's hard to make out the shaky, almost frantic handwriting, but we've done our best to reprint it here:
THINGS TO BRING UP AT MEETING:
· McCoy Elementary needs a new abacus. (It's time to admit this whole computer thing has failed.)
· Propose purchase of Stealth Management by Sheldon Miller -- could help Dr. T turn district around.
· Aquariums in every classroom. Fish are supposed to be in schools.
· Animal Control on every principal's speed dial. In case it really does follow Mary to school one day.
· Free hair care for board members.