CCSD sending large group on Fla. trip; estimated cost is $300,000
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
April 21, 2012 12:05 AM | 9568 views | 126 126 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA —Despite facing a $62 million budget deficit and the possibility of eliminating as many as 350 staff posititions, the Cobb School District will send up to 150 principals, teachers and executive staff to a June conference in Orlando at an estimated minimum cost of $300,000 — or, at least $2,000 per person — superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa confirmed Friday.

The 20th annual Model Schools Conference, hosted by the International Center for Leadership in Education, will be held June 24 through 27 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Florida and will feature a number of speakers, including Dr. Bill Daggett, who spoke to about 500 Cobb employees in January.

Hinojosa said the exact cost for the trip has not been determined, but he estimates a minimum of $2,000 per person — and up to $4,000 per person on the high side, depending on how many carpool, fly or share rooms at the conference. Registration is $451 per person, and Cobb’s staff will be staying at a less-expensive hotel with double-occupancy rooms for $159 per night, compared to the $239-per-night Gaylord Resort, where the conference will be based.

“This isn’t going to impact our general fund at all,” Hinojosa said. Instead, grant money and specified teacher-training funds will cover the bulk of the cost, he said. That money is still generated by taxpayers, though.

“We can’t use this money for teacher (salaries) at all, but we can use this money to make teachers better,” Hinojosa said. “We aren’t trying to hide anything. We have to change the way that we’re doing business. We have to start thinking differently. That’s why we’re doing this.”

At the conference, Hinojosa said, Cobb staff will be able to review research from 100 of the highest-performing and most-improved schools across the nation and get a chance to meet with staff from 25 of those schools, including ones in Maryland, Massachusetts and Kentucky.

“They are bringing these schools to Orlando so they can share what’s made them successful,” he said. “This conference is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, our principals and teachers to come meet with these schools that have been very successful. It would be impossible for us to go visit all these schools all over the country.”

Hinojosa said attending the conference will also help the district with its rewriting of the Strategic Plan, which is scheduled to be completed in July.

Of the 150 people projected to go, Hinojosa said 10 of them will be from the central office and include academic, technology and a couple of senior staff leaders. Hinojosa himself will not be making the trip, he said.

Hinojosa learned about the Florida conference in January when Daggett spoke to Cobb district employees, talks that cost the district more than $11,000.

He met Daggett through state Superintendent Dr. John Barge, but said Daggett has worked with Gov. Nathan Deal and serves on the advisory boards for NASA and USA Today.

“This guy has been (working in education) for a long time, so when we heard him, we said, ‘Wow! Our people need to hear him because things are really challenging and where are we going to go?’” Hinojosa said.

But the superintendent is aware that with the district looking at a $62 million budget deficit for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, there will be critics. Cobb will approve the FY2013 budget on May 17, and it tentatively calls for: cutting 350 positions; increasing class sizes by two students and the number of furlough days from two to five; reducing the number of work days from 180 to 175; delaying raises for half a year; eliminating 50 library positions; and taking $21.5 million from the $99 million in reserves.

“That’s the cost of doing business,” he said. “When you’re trying to do something to make the system better, you’re going to take a few hits.”

Still, leaders of local teacher associations were not very pleased with the idea of the conference.

John Adams, co-executive director of Educators First, said he had heard about it but was unaware of the scope of cost.

“While I appreciate the importance of staff development, at this time, given the budget crunch that the district is facing, spending potentially $450,000 to go to Florida would seem to me to be the wrong thing at the wrong time. … That money could potentially save nine or 10 teachers,” he said. “It just sends the wrong message, and it’s only going to further erode what little trust there is between teachers and the central office.”

Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, said she hadn’t heard about the conference but it didn’t surprise her.

“In today’s climate, I would expect the district to seriously look at all expenditures for travel or conferences and whether they truly help the students,” she said. “Is that the best use of funds? Possibly, and possibly not. But I would expect someone to be able to seriously justify that expenditure, especially coming on the back of them going to Boston this week.”

Jackson said a more cost-effective idea might be to teleconference the sessions.

Hinojosa and school board member David Banks are in Boston this weekend to attend the National School Board Association Annual Conference.

That trip will cost about $4,000 total for both men to attend and is being paid for out of the district’s training and traveling budget. The conference is to feature speakers like CNN Correspondent Soledad O’Brien, and Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, a free online education platform and not-for-profit organization.

Back in 2005, the Cobb district sent 54 people to a conference in Boston hosted by consultant Alan November. On that trip, an Atlanta TV station broadcast footage of principals and administrators lounging in the lobby of a hotel while classes were in session. The Journal, in its reports, also woke an area superintendent up in his room on an afternoon he was supposed to be attending a class session.

“You can never safeguard from that,” Hinojosa said. “But … I think the likelihood is less if their supervisor is going with them.”
Comments
(126)
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AngryCobbTeacher
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April 29, 2012
Here's what we need to do:

Hinojasa needs to go. Period. Send him back to Dallas or another state so he can make bad decisions there too (does anybody recall the Constantino fiasco?) Next, fire the whole entire school board and replace them with teachers because we are in the trenches each and every day. We know what our students need, what works best for them, what doesn't, etc. We don't need any fat cat, pencil-pushing dictators making rules for us. Here's a silly question, but when was the last time you or any of your henchmen on the board were in the classroom as a TEACHER? Yea, that's what I thought. Stop making rules for us.

How in the blue blazes can you teach 38 kids all at once? The classroom is not big enough as it is not to mention the "differentiation" we have to perform for each student. You think that's still possible? Then show me. Then show us. Then show CCSD it can be done. But, come to my school and I will handpick the students for you and let's see how you do. Oh don't worry - I will give you a fair amount of kids.

Let's see, I will choose the Johnnys, Lamars and Peters because they tend to curse and throw things when they don't get their way. Then I will choose the Jennifers, Denises and Moniques that will talk and interrupt others around them. Then I will choose the Robbys that sleep in class because they don't get enough sleep at home. Then I will choose the Angies, Bennys and Michaels that will complain because they are hungry and don't get enough food at home. Then I will choose the Rogers, Taylors and JaQuintas because they don't know how to read, write or do math. Then I would pick the Angelos, Marquez and Charlies that don't speak English. Oh I could go on and on. If you can teach the standards the entire day without pulling out your hair, crying or break down, then I will do what you want without ever questioning you again.

We teachers are getting a raw deal in this situation but yet, you and your henchmen are getting fat. You're not getting hit in your wallet are you? You get paid for unused vacation and get to go on these wonderful conferences. Oh, the life you lead.

There are two reasons why teachers go into administrative positions. First, because they can't hack the classroom anymore and secondly, it's a power thing. So Hinjosa - which one is it or is it both?

Knowthing
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April 29, 2012
Why not REALLY be transparent and print what money and it's intended use, is exactly available. It really burns me that CCSB and administration just happen to pull out of their magic hat money to fund useless "conference" trips, while teachers are furloughed. How about all top adminstrators including Dr. H taking five furlough days without pay?
Can someone explain?
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April 27, 2012
From the CCSD website:

According to federal guidelines, Title II Funds cannot be used for: Equipment,Additional Staff, Conference/Workshops (unless small part of overall plan), Retreats, Student materials, Instructor for students

Are Title II funds different from Title II grants? I thought that Title II grants were only $25-$75K.

If anyone understands this program, I would appreciate some clarification. Thanks.
Dum Dum
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April 25, 2012
Regardless of the funding source, spending $300K

while you're talking about cutting 350 positions

is a dumb move by the CCSD.
Kennesaw Resident
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April 26, 2012
Exactly!
eCobb Dad of 3
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April 25, 2012
It looks to me like the people that are all ticked off are the same people who are complaining that they no longer have the option of going to Orlando and February because of the lack of a "balanced" calendar. I sense a tinge of jealousy.

Just an observation. Let the flaming begin.
a teacher
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April 26, 2012
I think you are wrong. This isn't about jealousy, but the poor timing of spending such a large amount of money on a trip when people's jobs are on the line. It is also in poor taste because they are looking at furlough days and paycuts AGAIN for district employees. I realize that the money can not be used for teacher salaries, but it is a slap in the face to take a handful of people to such a nice professional learning when the money could be spent locally on classroom supplies and what not. It really is hard for teachers to spend their own money on supplies with all the cuts. The whole thing is just in poor taste and very inconsiderate to the majority of CCSD employees.

Before you or anyone else say anything about a teacher posting on here and not working, I am on my lunch break....
Kennesaw Resident
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April 25, 2012
If Hinojosa can't find a better way to spend this grant money, maybe the CCSB should find a replacement superintendent who can!
East Cobb Mom
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April 25, 2012
@mmmmmmmm: that is actually not true. The best schools in Cobb -- such as Walton -- can compete nationally. Walton is consistently ranked one of the best high schools in the nation. Milton in North Fulton also ranks nationally.
Kennesaw Voter
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April 24, 2012
Wow, what an outrage...instead of spending $4,000 per person to go to Disney Land for a conference so they can learn how to think outside the box...

why not pay the facilitator to come to Cobb at a local hotel and put on a conference right here to teach them how to think and work?

The school employees who are screaming to tax us more should have to take a pay cut to fund this nonsense....oh wait, they can just tax the seniors and get it from them...and if a few seniors have financial dificulty because of it...that is really a small price to pay for them principals learning how to think outside the box.

CCSD is turning into a mirror image of Dekalb County schools...REDICULOUS

I will vote against Kathy because she was suppose to stop crap like this...do your job Angiluchie
mmmmmm
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April 24, 2012
When are you all going to get it, that even Cobb and Fulton Counties best schools are not what the average schools are in the top 10 States. Some of you need to expanded your view outside of Georgia. Until you do that, corporations that move here will continue to bring the best and brightest from out of state.
Ms Take
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April 24, 2012
Spending taxpayer money on wild junkets is not the answer. Our teachers are trained and qualified to

pursue their profession but there is continuous

interference from a gigantic oversupply of "administrators" telling the teachers how to do

that which they are trained and prepared to do.

Frankie58
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April 24, 2012
CCSD Teacher...yes we can all read, so since you have the answers, can you please explain how a "minimal $300K" trip can be paid with $6000 remaining of the "$10K that is remaining in the teacher training budget", remember on Apr 19 in a MDJ Article, when the Super justfied his trip to Boston. So just what "grants" are the remaining $294K coming, again he FAILED to identify the SOURCE of the money, did he and certain board members bypass the Board again, or was he just "not aware" of the procedures????
anonymous
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April 24, 2012
He gets the CFO, who is a yes man, to give money from other funds.
Cobb Taxpayer, Too
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April 24, 2012
I'm sure this trip will end up helping our schools and improve Cobb County in general. I don't have any qualms about it. We should look at some of the wasteful spending of our Cobb County government, instead. I don't trust the audit that comes out for them periodically. We should make sure we have truly independent audits of what our Cobb government is doing.
Donald Duck
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April 24, 2012
Check out the size of the budgets that you are comparing. You had better get concerned about both the CCSD and the Cobb County Budget.

SPLOST and Bonds have come around to bite us in the butt.
Kennesaw Resident
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April 25, 2012
@ Cobb Taxpayer, Too, this is just another EduFad which will not help improve a thing. You are VERY naive.
CCSD Teacher
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April 24, 2012
Can you people read? The money being used for the conference CANNOT be spent on teacher salaries or to save jobs. I laugh in your faces when you jump to conclusions without properly researching; I guess that's difference between educated people and angry, irrational people.

Why don't you let CCSD raise your property taxes? Because you will scream and pitch a hissy fit! You all bark and scream, but do not want to be part of the solution.
Mickey Mouse
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April 24, 2012
Are you flying or driving to Orlando?
Mad Max
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April 24, 2012
Yes, I can read. I understand that the money can't be used for teacher salaries but I know WASTEFUL SPENDING when I see it and that is what this trip would be. I have been to these kind of seminars before and they are usually nothing more than glorified vacations. Mine have not been at taxpayer expense and neither should this one.The point is that I am tired of seeing my money wasted for a few when we should be trying to find solutions to encourage our teachers and give them support. There is a lot of grumbling and finger pointing going on and yes we do need to work together to solve them but lets work on solutions for our teachers and not an elite few. Remember happy employees are productive employees. So I guess what I am trying to say is quit WASTING my money.
GOP Newbie
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April 24, 2012
There are procedures in place by the use of which

funds can be transferred from item to item in the

CCSD budget where there is a genuine need to do so.

The problem is with the CCSB and its lack of will

to pursue the legal means to initiate such a change.
anonymous
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April 24, 2012
and why can it not be used for salaries? There are things called budget adjustments where you can move money into any account you want with the right approvals
JDTBQ
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April 25, 2012
Teacher, budgets can be amended to move funds to pay for important necessities, especially in economic uncertainty. I'm more concerned that no one has named the source or amount of the grants. Who is really funding this, and why?

I'm just going to ignore the rant part about raising my property taxes. There's not much I can say that will change your entitlement mentality.
KSUsed
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April 24, 2012
Alright....let's all agree that now that we have a Cobb EMC board in place that we now focus on CCSD.

ol' retired doc
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April 24, 2012
And maybe we can get an indictment (or two).
Frankie58
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April 24, 2012
Another confused...an answer to your question..if you go to the CCSD Website, look at the listing of all schools, I did, guess what, the choosen list is..basically EVERY principle in the district including the CHARTER Schools, total on the list is 132 schools. The Superintendent said that 150 were going, guess where the remaing 18 will come from???
Another confused
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April 24, 2012
That is interesting, Frankie 58, but I am sure there will be a few token teachers. I can only imagine that a few principals will take a "friend". Perhaps Dr. Hungerford is including the advisory group of teachers who have been named. I think the public would like to see who these people are, what school they represent and how were they chosen. Too bad that there are some very good teachers who were not chosen for this advisory committee.
Ms Fitt
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April 24, 2012
The remaining 18 are not principles. They are

principals.
Common Sense 33
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April 23, 2012
RE Grant Money: As you point out, grant money for professional training must be used for training. So how about spending the money WISELY for professional training...Take $300,000 and spend it by training as many teachers as possible locally. This is better than spending the money on hotels, airfare, Disney World, per diem, etc. Take the money and hire someone to come to Cobb and train teachers on an in-service day...that $300,000 then will be used wisely rather than foolishly and extravagantly!
Really, mmmm?
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April 23, 2012
It's fair to criticize teachers on a comment post, mmmmm. But when you do so, please spell "collar" correctly and learn how to properly execute an apostrophe. Just sayin'.
anonymous
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April 24, 2012
It's also fair to say that you add nothing to the discussion. Just sayin'.
anonymous teacher
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April 23, 2012
$300,000? I was curious to learn about Daggett; I wanted to know what he had to say that could possibly be worth $300,000, particularly in these economic times when teachers are being laid off and class sizes and furlough days are increasing. In my research I found nothing new or noteworthy that I hadn’t heard before in terms of rigor, relevance and critical thinking; nothing worth $300,000 to me. I did learn, however, that Daggett may not be all he’s cracked up to be. Sure, it’s easy to find negative and inaccurate information on the web, but some of what I found is hard to ignore. Check out this 2007 Rotten Apple Award written by Gerald Bracey, a public school advocate and longtime fellow of the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado: http://www.america-tomorrow.com/bracey/EDDRA/rottenaples2007-2.pdf

Bracey (who died in 2009) worked tirelessly to expose inaccurate, inconsistent and deceptive educational research. Another article, “UNC Consultant Gets Big Bucks for Small Bang, Report Says,” from the John Locke Foundation website (“an independent, non- profit think tank”) is also worth reading. http://www.johnlocke.org/news_columns/display_story.html?id=717

Before you waste $300,000 we don’t have, do a little research Cobb County Schools (there’s more out there). If you’re going to spend $300,000, it ought to be good.

Confused teacher
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April 23, 2012
FYI - Dr. Daggatt has already been to Cobb County and made a presentation to the county administrators this school year.I don't really understand the $300,000 need to hear him again.
Another confused
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April 23, 2012
It would be interesting to see a list of names of those "chosen" to attend and what schools they represent. What schools are represented and why. When can we, the public, see this?
GOP Newbie
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April 23, 2012
The CCSB has lost its collective mind. What will it

take for the citizens of Cobb County to put a stop to this madness?
anonymous
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April 23, 2012
My sister is a parapro in Cobb County. She has worked full time at the same school for over 15 years. She brings home about $1000 a month.

To send ONE person to this conference will cost two to four times her monthly pay.
mmmmmm
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April 23, 2012
These comments made mostly by angry teachers and those who make less than $40K per year show how out of touch you are with reality. Teacher's like to claim they are professionals, but then when someone tries to treat a large group of them like professionals by sending them to an actual professional conference they piss and moan. Perhaps those of you who weren't selected to go this year are on the list to go next year or the year after. Perhaps we all see the reason why you aren't on the career promotion ladder, you piss and moan. You are ignorant and vote for those against you.

In my 20 year professional career of managing both professional and blue colar workers, I tried to develop budgets that ensured my staff had access to professional and career training. I developed budgets that the average training confernces for professionals in our field cost $1,200-$1,500 per year. The cost of training courses for the blue colar employees were appox $500 per year. Most of the Professional Conferences were held in San Antonio, Denver, LA, San Francisco, so the Travel was always high. I tried to encourage staff to submit proposals on how they wanted to spend their training budget. I encouraged them to use it to maintain or gain professional certification. I had Janitors become HVAC technicians. They more than doubled their salaries and then gained plenty of side job work.

A huge part of professional development and training is being able to go to these conferences in other parts of the country and see what they are doing, what their best practices are. To see you don't have it so bad. After all George is number 48, Mass. is number 1 and has been number 1. It is alot less expensive to go 6-7 hours to a relatively inexpensive town Orlando, rather than Boston to learn about the number 1 state.

The facts are you have to spend money to earn money. Or spend money to create better schools.
mmmmmmyourself
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April 23, 2012
I notice that all of your experience is in the past tense.
Cobb Taxpayer
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April 23, 2012
Cobb has or had several schools that have the best practices - why not visit them first and see what works and why and how to a adapt ?

I assure, and I have been many times, that Daggett and others have nothing to contribute to the schools in Cobb - Try Cobb success schools first.
May Retta
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April 23, 2012
Please tell us who George is. Is he a teacher? Is he single?
anonymous
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April 24, 2012
No one can use someone else's program because everyone has to do it their way, the best way. I have said for years that Cobb should be finding the best performing schools and send 1-2 people there to see the basics and really ask questions then come back here and see if they can implement those things here with the demographics and political hoohaa and go from there. If they can teach children, they can't teach their peers?
BobTheCCTeacher
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April 24, 2012
MMMMMMMMM I see you gave your employees an opportunity to submit their training idea... we don't have those opportunities. I see that you rotated your employees so everyone would go eventually... we don't have that either. I see you worked in a business, I bet if your business was going to take a $62 Million loss in one year that the first thing cut from the budget would be your training allowance.
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