Monday, October 20, 2014

MORE QUALIFIED THAN OTHERS.

Batiste continues to insult WPS60 employees with big titles and paychecks and abuse of his fiduciary duties in favor of his crony Laila Eames, to whom he awarded sole source contracts totaling $80,000 additional taxpayer dollars in the last two years. 

His decision reflects his conclusion that there were no capable folks in the employ of the district to provide this guidance.

We identified these Administrators already on the payroll at Waukegan Public Schools District 60 with responsibility areas that could easily encompass monitoring Principals.

Mrs. Judith M. Green, C.A.S.
Associate Superintendent for School Leadership and Development
FY2014 Salary Paid $128,200.93
Start date 1/19/90 in district; promoted to current position 7/1/13

Joan E. Brixey, Ed.D.
Associate Superintendent for Teaching, Learning and Professional Practice
FY2014 Salary Paid $138,195.32
Start date 7/1/06 in district; promoted to current position 7/1/13

Mrs. Marilyn J. Krajenta, M.Ed
Assistant Superintendent for School Leadership and Development
FY2014 Salary Paid $125,922.57
Start date 7/1/06 in district; promoted to current position 7/1/13

What do they do all day to earn their compensation? Perhaps we should have them provide a time & motion study accounting for their time?

Batiste is responsible to the good citizens of Waukegan who now demand to have the Eames contract cancelled with the return of all monies paid to her for exercising poor judgment and wasting taxpayer funds.

Where does Mary Lamping figure into these decisions?
  • Lamping had every opportunity to counsel Batiste on fiscal conservatism and the use of in-house Admin staff
  • Lamping is the primary force in the negotiations with the teachers' union and is surely aware of the hiring of Anthony Ficarelli at premium dollars to provide outside counsel in lieu of Tom Morris, General Counsel.
  • Lamping is fully aware of the hiring/promotion of additional administrators with a raw payroll that now totals $14.9 Million.
  • Lamping has direct input in the WPS60 budget that is submitted to ISBE
  • Lamping believes she is heir apparent to succeed the lame duck Superintendent, Batiste
Lamping is Batiste's partner in this plot.

Lamping's imprint is all over the decisions that have been implemented to waste funds for personal gain of friends and family. 

An immediate independent audit of the use of funds by the current administration is demanded. In the interim, a trustee should be appointed to oversee daily operations of the district to prevent further syphoning off of taxpayers funds.

BATISTE CONTINUES LEGACY OF SOLE SOURCE CONTRACTS TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

An accounting internal control Board policy places a spending cap on WPS60 Superintendent's authorization of expenditures. Batiste has found a get-around to reward cronies with No Bid, Sole Source awards for professional services. 

We have previously reported Batiste's recommendation to hire Anthony Ficarelli at exactly $50,000 (approved 7-0 by the WPS Board) now exceeded by actual billings resulting in the current teachers' strike.

A new investigation reveals a continued pattern by Batiste to divert taxpayer funds from direct education vis-a-vis a series of consulting agreements with Leila Eames. 


The fifth annual Leila Williams Tea on December 11 honored The Historic New Orleans Collection’s 2001 donors. Leila Eames and Dr. Donaldo R. Batiste

So, what exactly is the relationship between Eames & Batiste dating back to 2001 in New Orleans? Personal? Professional? Both?

Here is an excerpt from the August 14, 2012 Board Meeting (page 6):

APPROVAL OF THE FY 2012-2013 PRINCIPAL MENTORING CONTRACT WITH MRS.
LEILA EAMES FOR SERVICE TO: CARMAN-BUCKNER, GLEN FLORA, GLENWOOD,
WHITTIER, ABBOTT, BENNY, JUAREZ, AND JEFFERSON

The recommendation of the Administration was: that the Board of Education approve the Principal Mentoring Contract with Mrs. Leila Eames in the amount of $32,500, for the

2012-2013 School Year.

After due consideration thereof, the President called for a roll call vote. The following members voted aye: Pierson-White, Anderson, Elliott, Maguire, Hanna, Rodriguez. Whereupon the President declared the motion carried.


Eames' good luck continues into the 2013-2014 school year 
as she secures another Sole Source award by Batiste






$32,500 was a nice gift....why not goose it up to $46,500 when nobody is looking? Sugar Daddy Batiste discovered a wonderful way to help Eames supplement her pension from New Orleans Public Schools.

Again, Batiste shows no confidence in his existing administrative staff to do the training for Principals at NO ADDITIONAL COST to the District. Batiste could not locate any resources in Waukegan or the collar counties to hire a local resource. Instead, apparently the only person qualified to provide this training is his old crony from New Orleans, Leila Eames!

When there is no oversight or checks and balances to keep folks honest, why not reward friends & family, especially when it is not your money.

The good folks of Waukegan should call for an immediate investigation and internal audit of all of Batiste's recommendations and expenditures under the $50,000 ceiling to determine if there are additional instances of waste of taxpayer dollars...with the cost of the audit to be paid by Batiste from his personal funds. 

The Superintendent of Los Angeles just resigned after gross abuse of taxpayer funds during his tumultuous 3 1/2 year tenure.

Perhaps Batiste should reflect on his continued employment at WPS60?

Here is a hint: 

NEW ORLEANS
Real estate transfers for Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2014


Lakewood Estates Drive 185: Gary P. Lala to Donaldo R. Batiste, $421,500.

Exit, stage left??

Friday, October 17, 2014

AND THE CROOKED SHALL BE MADE STRAIGHT

Speaking from experience as a grammar school graduate, we were always advised to check our work for accuracy before handing in our assignments.

On a field trip browsing the fiction section of the Waukegan Public Library we came across a letter posted today, October 17, 2014 by Donaldo Batiste, Superintendent of Waukegan Public Schools.

With that attribution, we herein publish this work in full with our comments noted in red, as would any school English teacher.

October 17, 2014

Dear Parents, Guardians and Waukegan School District Community Members:

Donaldo, the 2013 census of Waukegan was approximately 88,800. Perhaps you are privy to the striation of the gross salaries earned by adults in those households? Surely, most fall well below your generous compensation of $272,567 (not including benefits). That puts you in the 1% not only in Waukegan, but in all of Lake County.

Your base compensation in 2006 was $200,000 with guaranteed increase of not less than 3% or more than 7% (including a vehicle) that has resulted in an increase of $72,567 over 7-8 years.  (Click here to download the Batiste contract)

You have done very well for yourself! Nice enough for you to reside in Gurnee, not Waukegan.

Your contract reflects performance based goals, including the attainment of improved student performance.

When was the last time that you entered a classroom and engaged directly with students to directly influence these results? Certainly well before 2006. That is precisely the job of the teachers!

Your sympathy as to the plight of 17,000 students and professional educators that number 1,200 is disingenuous.

FICTION: I wish I were writing today to let you know that the strike has ended, and that our students and teachers were going to return to the classroom after nearly two weeks.  We never wanted a strike, and now we find ourselves looking back on another full week without classes.  I again apologize for the inconvenience the strike continues to cause you and your children.  I, along with the Board of Education, share your deep frustration.

FACT: By majority vote, the Board of Education can negotiate a proper multi-year contract that is fair in both working conditions and compensation. You had no problem negotiating a sweet deal for yourself and almost 200 administrators with the Board. Show some leadership by simply extending the same consideration and courtesy to the teachers. 

FICTION: Unfortunately, after several marathon sessions— during which significant progress was made—the Union has chosen to walk away from the table.  An agreement cannot be reached by one side.  Our school system thrives on a working collaboration between students, teachers, and administrators.  

FACT: You, Dr. Batiste, unilaterally recommended the sole source hiring of Anthony Ficarelli from Hinshaw, affirmed by unanimous vote of the Board. Click here for link

You also recommended the hiring of Thomas Morris (from Hinshaw) as your General Counsel at $235,000 per year.

Apparently you have no confidence in Morris, who has 6 more years experience as a lawyer than Ficarelli. 

This duplication of expenditures takes money you claim is dear directly from the Education Fund for outside legal fees.

Ficarelli has been an obstacle to resolving the strike and has no incentive to bring it to a swift conclusion. Click here to view his billings.

Perhaps you should consider refunding $50,000 (and counting) to the District for poor judgment and waste of taxpayer funds directly from your personal compensation?

FICTION: For this reason, the Board remains committed to a negotiation process.  In recent talks, tentative agreements have been struck: the Board has agreed to fully fund single premium health insurance, and teachers have agreed to more time in the classroom.

FACT: The good citizens of Waukegan have noted that you have influenced and directly employed a strategy since last April that directly resulted in the teachers' strike. The billings by Hinshaw indicate the hours spent and the strategies employed by you and the Board.

It is also improper to leak to the public incomplete information that should be held within the negotiations until an agreement is reached by mutual consent.

FICTION: Where do we disagree? Not over our commitment to providing students with a quality education, and not over the value of our teachers and the exemplary work that they do.  Rather, our disagreements are purely financial: both sides agree to pay raises, but the Union just demands more, to the detriment of the District’s ability to preserve its fiscal solvency and use taxpayer funds wisely.  

FACT: If you truly value the work of the teachers, as a fellow professional educator, you should be the first in line to support their receiving equitable compensation with the same vigor and passion you use to convince the Board to properly compensate you and the other Administrators.

The 2015 Draft Budget reflects almost the same surplus that was reported to ISBE for the 2014 budget

The Board lacks professional expertise to craft the budget, let alone grasp the financial implications of the allocation of funds. Your staff prepared the Budget; the Board accepted your recommendation without altering one budgetary line item. 

FICTION: The District’s reserves—contrary to what the Union says—act like savings account, and allow the District to manage emergencies. The State Board of Education also requires us to maintain such reserves. 

FACT: WPS60 has full autonomy on how taxpayer funds are allocated and spent. ISBE provides guidelines for what constitutes minimum academic requirements and also sets standards for teacher evaluations. 

School districts are free to solicit grant monies, corporate participation and engage in fundraising to augment funding provided by the Federal and State governments. 

As the face of the District, you should be its biggest cheerleader.
"A New Day, A New Way" is a great tagline. Empty classroom, Empty words.

You have breached your fiduciary duty by mismanaging the taxpayers funds. This is the place where you should insert your apology and commitment to replacing funds spent improperly.

FICTION: We urge the Union to come back to the table, so we can collaborate and reach an agreement that will get our students back in school. 

FACT: The negotiating posture assumed by the Board to wear out the union has backfired as indicated by the tenor of comments from last Tuesday's Board meeting that are now memorialized on YouTube for the entire country to view.
Click here for link to video

In addition, perhaps you should advise the Board members regarding good faith negotiations. 

Admonish Board members for their statements in public places that constitute vindictive behavior and a testosterone rush. Mr. Don Elliot was at Sam's Club on Thursday and was overhead to comment that he was voting against the contract because he has a problem with Mike McGue, who is not employed by the District and certainly receives no direct compensation from the collective bargaining agreement between the Waukegan Teachers and WPS60. Not only is this unprofessional behaviour by an elected official, but this vote bars 17,000 students from returning to the classroom. A personal apology to the Waukegan community is certainly in order. Elliot has admitted his bias and should be removed from the decision-making process.

All this despite your personal "sympathy" for their plight...while you receive your paycheck, benefits and automobile perk.

Be cautious and prudent with the current proliferation of social media and instantaneous transmission of indiscretions. Eyes are watching and ears are listening.

In the meantime, the District has made an effort to continue its educational programming for students, including:
  • Assistance to WHS seniors applying to college.  House leaders will be available to assist with college and scholarship applications during the strike.Current students needing transcripts for college can contact the WHS registrar at 224-303-3388.
  • ACT Testing is still scheduled for Saturday, October 25, at Waukegan High School. Students must report to Brookside Campus east side by 8 a.m. with a photo ID. Nearly 300 students have registered.
For more information on these programs, and updates on strike developments, please visit our website: www.wps60.org.

The best way to continue educational programming is in the classroom.

I share your strong desire to open our schools’ doors and get our students back to the business of learning.  Thank you for your continued support of the Waukegan school system during this difficult time.

Sincerely,
Donaldo R. Batiste, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools


Donaldo, enough lip service. You carry enough weight to turn the tide here. Get Ficarelli out of the room, bring the Board members directly into the negotiations and hammer out a long term agreement that will enable your focus to be back on the education business.

We welcome your response.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE GOOD RESIDENTS OF WAUKEGAN ILLINOIS

The obstacle to ending the current Teachers' strike rests in the hands of 7 elected officials.

The solution is to convince 4 of the 7 that an equitable solution and the return of students and teachers to classrooms is their highest priority and a fulfillment of their fiduciary duty as school board members. A simple majority brings this matter to a swift conclusion.

As of 2013, Waukegan's population with 88,800. School Board members typically garner only about 3,000 votes to be elected.

1,000 people attended the Board meeting last Tuesday. the overwhelming tenor of comments were supportive of teachers and students. The behavior of the Board memorialized on video and reported in the media showed contempt, arrogance and disrespect to citizens who came to express their opinions.

American democracy protects the rights of assembly and peaceful demonstrations. A handful of American patriots protested the Tea Act in Boston harbor that resulted in the American Revolution.

Now is the time to rally the parents and taxpayers to regain control of Waukegan Public Schools.

Isolate each Board member to gauge their position on settlement. Keeping the focus on each in the press and in public will have an effect on their decision-making. 

It is interesting that there is no public information available on Google, Facebook or Twitter on any of the board members. What is their educational background, work history, life experience that enables them to understand or administer a $162 Million budget?

Review their voting records by reading the board minutes. It appears that they simply rubber stamp recommendations by Batiste and the Administration. Remember well, they will vote to hire the next Superintendent.

Force accountability with continued pressure.
The exercise of democracy is a good lesson for Waukegan students, as well as taxpayers.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

AN OPEN CHALLENGE TO ANTHONY FICARELLI

You contend that Waukegan District 60 does not possess financial resources to arrive at an equitable collective bargaining agreement with striking teachers.

Hinshaw billings reflect "No Charge Professional Courtesy" on August 28, 2014 for a 1/2 hour conference call with the Federal Mediator while billing the District 47.4 hours at a sum total of $12,910.50 for the month also including phone charges of $72.12!


The good citizens of Waukegan express their gratitude for your generosity and charity! Please note that your in kind donation of $137.50 will be used for the benefit of 17,000 students at a per capita rate of $0.008 each! Certainly the Board will spend this money wisely. 

As you may note, payments made for outside legal fees come directly from the Education budget and reduce dollar for dollar precious resources for personnel directly responsible for carrying out the mandate of educating students in Waukegan.

So, Tony, as a civic minded citizen, why don't you provide your advice to the district PRO BONO? The residents of Waukegan would be greatly appreciative. You can even be more charitable by rebating fees already billed and collected expressing your full understanding of the circumstances and solidarity with the students who you purport to protect with your appointed representation by Batiste and the Board.

What say ye??

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BREAKING NEWS

NEW MATH LESSON FROM WPS60 BOARD AND ADMINISTRATION

Reminds us of the old adage "liars can't figure and figures don't lie!"

FOIA RESPONSE FROM WAUKEGAN DISTRICT 60 RE FISCAL YEAR 2015 PROJECTED BUDGET (Unaudited)

Click here to download FY2015
Click here to download FY 2014

Working Cash Balance 7/1/2014 $25.8 Million
Working Cash Balance 7/1/2013 $25.5 Million
Variance: +$.3 Million


2014-2015
Projected Salaries $113,076,309 (pg. 3 line 87)

2013-2014
Projected Salaries $110,585,985 (pg. 3 line 87)
Variance: +$2,400,324

Educational Fund Salaries 2015
Total Instruction $72.1 Million (pg.10 line 33)
Support Services Pupil $13.2 Million (pg 10 line 42)
Support Services Staff $7.35 Million (pg 10 line 47)
Support Svcs Genl Admin $644,000 (pg 10 line 53)
Support Svcs School Admin $7.3 Million (pg 10 line 57)
Support Svcs Business $6.3 Million (pg 11 line 65)
Support Svcs Central $2.5 Million (pg 11 line 72)
Other Support Svcs $2.8 Million (pg 11 line 73)
TOTAL SUPPORT SVCS $40.2 MILLION (pg 11 line 74)

Educational Fund Salaries 2014
Total Instruction $70.39 Million (pg.11 line 32)
Support Services Pupil $12.7 Million (pg 11 line 41)
Support Services Staff $6.8 Million (pg 11 line 46)
Support Svcs Genl Admin $909,000 (pg 11 line 51)
Support Svcs School Admin $7.1 Million (pg 11 line 56)
Support Svcs Business $5.9 Million (pg 12 line 64)
Support Svcs Central $2.1 Million (pg 12 line 71)
Other Support Svcs $3.7 Million (pg 12 line 72)
TOTAL SUPPORT SVCS $39.3 MILLION (pg 12 line 73)


FY2014 ADMINISTRATIVE SALARIES
$13,900.647.09
Click here for the complete recap FY11-14


2015 RECAP


 2014 RECAP


Thursday, October 9, 2014


BATISTE SKIRTS OPEN BID SOLICITATION FOR OUTSIDE LEGAL FEES BY AWARDING HINSHAW's ANTHONY FICARELLI a $50,000 SOLE SOURCE AWARD FOR COLLECTIVE BARGAINING WITH WAUKEGAN TEACHERS

Information received last night to our FOIA request (click here to download the response) regarding the appointment of Anthony Ficarelli reveals that there is written documentation of communications dated May 29, 2014 between Batiste and Ficarelli that discussed scope of work and fees for representing WPS60 in labor negotiations with LCFT Local 504 commencing June 10, 2014.

There was no attempt by Batiste in this short timeframe to consider issuing a proper Request for Bid that would require posting to the public and a public opening of responses.

Instead, in just 13 days this decision was rammed through the Board!

The agenda item prepared by the Administration for consideration at the June 10, 2014 regular Board Meeting provides a budget of $50,000 for Ficarelli as an "estimate only" and notes that "the Administration has not used attorneys for actual collective bargaining during teachers' negotiations in the past."

According to the Board minutes, Agenda Item "Appointment of Special Legal Counsel for Collective Bargaining" Motion by Tommy Ryhan, seconded by Victoria Torres, the vote was 7 votes in favor, none opposed. 

There was no discussion regarding this sole source award, negotiation of fees, the rational for deviating from prior practice not to hire outside counsel and no response from Chief Counsel Tom Morris, whose law license with the ARDC is registered at Hinshaw as to any potential conflict of interest by awarding this contract to Hinshaw. In addition, Morris, compensated at $235,000 per year, has years of experience advising school districts and was hired to control outside legal fees per his contract. He even has an incentive clause regarding earning a bonus for lowering legal fees!



On June 16, 2014 Hinshaw sent a letter entitled "Rate Modification" requesting a partner rate increase of 2% and associate rate increases of 2.5% and 4%.

In the interest of protecting taxpayer funds and claiming that reserves need to be kept at certain maintenance levels, did Batiste go shopping for competitive rates or respond that these increases were not acceptable?

We have no documentation that addresses his response. 

Perhaps he should seek the advice of Ficarelli to negotiate favorable rates for the district with Hinshaw with the same enthusiasm that he exerts related to the negotiations with teachers?

Instead, residents of Waukegan awoke today to see a publicity photo of a smiling Ficarelli 



providing an interview with the Lake County News-Sun "Chief negotiator for Waukegan School District 60 speaks out" at his typical rate of $275!