Tag: andres alonso

Was Former Baltimore Schools Chief’s Contract “Overly Generous”?

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city schools CEO Andres Alonso

When Andrés Alonso announced his resignation as Baltimore school system CEO in May, he failed to give 90 days’ notice as outlined in his contract. The school board chose not to penalize him, and Alonso was able to cash out “unused vacation, sick, and personal leave days” for nearly $150,000.

If that amount makes you want to cuss, you’re not alone.

As reported in the Sun, Audrey Spalding, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and an expert on superintendent contracts, called the figure “surprising” and symptomatic of a contract that was lucrative “to the point of being irresponsible.”

Baltimore Schools’ Spendthrift Chief Technology Officer Leaves for Dallas

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City schools chief technology officer Jerome Oberlton
City schools chief technology officer Jerome Oberlton

Jerome Oberlton began as city schools chief technology officer in March 2011. In his short tenure he has been criticized for his spending habits — including $250,000 on “new floors, furniture, light fixtures, electronics and interactive whiteboards” in his basement office and thousands of dollars charged to the district for an office retreat, a Fogo de Chao dinner, baby showers, and the like.

Alonso’s Massive School Construction Plan One Step Closer to Reality

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city schools CEO Andres Alonso
city schools CEO Andres Alonso

On Tuesday, the Baltimore school board voted unanimously to approve city schools CEO Andres Alonso’s massive — we’re talking $2.4 billion spent over ten years —  school construction plan, which would close 26 schools and renovate 136 others.

Baltimore Schools to Fire Many Temporary Employees Right Before Christmas

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BCPSS Sign

Last month, a temporary worker at Hazelwood Elementary/Middle School in Northeast Baltimore was charged with sexual abuse of a minor. Some months prior, Baltimore’s teachers union complained that temporary employees were filling union jobs. And now, the city school system is not only reevaluating its vetting process, but plans to fire many temporary employees by Friday.

Schools CEO Andres Alonso Defends Financial Management to Parents, Staff

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Baltimore schools CEO Andrés Alonso sent out the below email addressing the findings of the Office of Legislative Audits and defending his role in the school system’s financial oversight. -The Eds.

Dear City Schools Colleagues, Staff, Partners and Friends,

I am writing to share with you the results of the state’s 2012 audit of Baltimore City Public Schools. Conducted by the state Office of Legislative Audits (OLA), the audit is part of a regular schedule of state audits of Maryland school districts that focus on systems and controls, and the degree to which they allow districts to operate in the most efficient and fiscally sound manner possible. The OLA’s first audit of the district was released in 2006. Today, the office released its second audit of City Schools. Please read it here.

The “Chalkboard Ceiling” in Maryland’s Public Schools

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Baltimore schools, which under CEO Andrés Alonso had been steadily improving their Maryland State Assessment scores since 2007, have started to stagnate and in some subjects drop in performance, results suggest. This means harder work for teachers and administrators, especially in the city, where schools are lagging behind the state average.

Big Fish Q&A with Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools

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At the outset of the past decade, Baltimore City changed its public schools superintendent with alarming frequency – a dizzying parade of six different bosses in six years. Given the dispiriting prevailing academic circumstances, few relished the job: a less than 50 percent graduation rate, a decades-long slide in enrollment, and appallingly low test scores compared to the national average.

In the summer of 2007, yet another new Baltimore City Public Schools CEO, Andrés A. Alonso, plunged into this apparent cauldron of failure. “We were just about as low as we could be,” Mary Pat Clarke, who chairs the City Council’s education committee, told The New York Times in December 2010. “He blew into town with a suitcase full of ideas. Now the school system’s in motion.”

Alonso set about implementing an ambitious reform program, dramatically altering the school system’s size, structure, and sensibility. In the past five years, he has shuttered underperforming schools; dismissed approximately 75 percent of the system’s principals; eliminated central office personnel by a third; established individual school autonomy by shifting central-office resources and decision-making to principals; introduced critical reviews of teachers based on their students’ achievement; and hired monitors to oversee state assessment testing in an effort to prevent cheating.

His top-to-bottom overhaul has resulted in soaring enrollment, increased graduation, decreased dropouts, and significantly improved test scores.

Still, problems — both perceived and real — vex Alonso’s vision for change. In recent months, The Baltimore Sun has revealed a school system that has allocated scarce financial resources to non-classroom-specific purposes: notably, $65 million to personnel for unused leave over five years; $14 million in overtime pay since 2009, including $78,000 last year alone for Alonso’s driver/security escort; and $500,000 for posh office renovations at BCPS’ North Ave. HQ.

Baltimore Students Face School on Saturdays

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It sounds like the sort of thing you say to threaten a kid whose grades are slipping:  If you don’t start focusing in class, you’ll have to go to school on Saturday! But for some middle school students in the Baltimore City school system, Saturday School is about to become a reality — and not as a punishment, but as a time for extra support and (allegedly) “fun.”

City schools CEO Andres Alonso has long been a proponent of Saturday school, which is thought to improve academic performance. (Even a little bit of extra schooling may help — a University of Maryland study showed that even a few snow days make end-of-year math scores go down.) When 2011 math scores declined (61 percent of third through eighth graders passed, compared to 66 percent in 2010), he jumped at the chance to try out this new program. Some schools are starting this week with programs that will be similar to the summer school program the city already runs, in that it’ll focus on hands-on learning, projects, and curriculum support.

The Saturday School initiative will run for 10 weeks, and will give students an extra 20 to 30 hours of math instruction leading up to the annual tests in March. If the program works and scores go up, students may be looking at a lot of busy Saturdays in the future.

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