281 CARE

Citizens Acting for Responsible Education

Congratulations to the RFT Union on Their Complete Sweep of the RAS Board Election:

Posted by 281 CARE on November 13, 2009

The Robbinsdale Teachers Federation Union endorsed School Board candidates won all four seats up for election November 3, 2009.  Two questions; Is the RAS community better off with the status quo maintained? And more importantly: Is there a conflict of interest when the RTF endorses and funds school board candidates?

Let us cover the facts first.  The School Board approves all union contracts and is part of the negotiations of employees’ contracts.  The union contracts are negotiated every two years, which is the same year that School Board members are elected.  Therefore, RAS employee union contracts are being negotiated during the same period that School Board elections are taking place.

Where else can a group of employees influence who is going to be approving their contact (pay and benefits)?  The RTF union paid for advertising in the Sun Post and made contributions to their endorsed candidates.  The total amount of their influence of this election can’t be measured but is probably the LARGEST SINGLE GROUP in the RAS District.

What is the RAS community going to do in the future and how should the election process for School Board work going forward?

We will be closely watching the Robbinsdale School Board’s decisions with the unions as well as other major issues very closely.  I hope that many other citizens will join in this important oversight of our Robbinsdale School Board.

This is a call to action of the RAS community to start to stand up to the status quo and fight back against the power of the RTF & RAS Board.  Please join us over the next two years to change for the better the education system to be more independent of the Federal & State government and the strangle hold of BIG UNION.

Please send your comment to us on how you want the RAS to change and how you will help.

Update: commenting feature is now enabled.


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Dissenters elected as decision-makers

Posted by 281 CARE on January 11, 2009

This article in the StarTribune shows how successful watchdogs can be in making change in school districts.

The Farmington school board will swear in one of its most vocal critics on Monday. On Tuesday, the Lakeville school board will do, well, pretty much the same thing.

When Farmington’s Tim Burke and Bob Erickson of Lakeville take their oaths of office, they’ll join boards they have been following as watchdogs for more than a year.

Their résumés as new school board members contain striking similarities. Both are outspoken fiscal conservatives who were drawn to board meetings because of issues they opposed. Both kept showing up after the votes, racking up formidable attendance records and peppering officials with e-mails asking for public documents that they spent hours dissecting. Both built their campaigns on calls for more transparency and fiscal accountability.

We hope others follow Lakeville and Farmington’s examples in District 281.

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281 sues for right to discipline students

Posted by 281 CARE on December 6, 2008

The Star Tribune reports that ISD 281 is suing for the right to enforce discipline.

The Robbinsdale School District has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a ruling that it claims could affect its ability to enforce discipline policy.

The lawsuit filed late last month stems from an incident in April in which a special-education ninth-grader at Cooper High School allegedly pushed a teacher down a hall, pinned her against a wall and verbally threatened her. The school district suspended the student for five days and then an additional 10. The district eventually moved to expel the student.

The district’s discipline policy states that high school students will be suspended and recommended for expulsion in cases of physical and verbal assault of school personnel. In September, a hearing officer ruled the district does not have the right to expel the student because his behavior was the result of his disability.

The district claimed in its appeal that the hearing officer made psychological judgments about the student that he was unqualified to make and that he relied on private psychological reports and education records unknown to the school district to make his ruling. The district said it is concerned for the safety of students and staff if its discipline policy cannot be enforced.

According to the complaint:

On April 24, a physical education teacher on hall duty asked the student to get a tardy pass because he was late for class. The student refused and made several offensive gestures that were captured on surveillance video. The student started swearing at the teacher, then held his forearms up in a motion similar to a football player pushing a blocking sled and pushed the teacher 50 feet down a hall. The student then pinned the teacher against the wall and verbally threatened her.

The school’s assistant principal came to the teacher’s aid, then escorted the student to the office.

The student admitted his actions to school officials, but later said he was defending himself.

Members of 281 CARE agree that the school district has a right to enforce their discipline policy, and hope that they win.

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Superintendent Mack’s Golden Parachute Severance – Paid By Taxpayers

Posted by 281 CARE on November 11, 2008

Now that ISD #281 has its operating referendum passed, it can help pay for Superintendent’s Golden Parachute Severance package. Below are some of the costs the RAS/TAXPAYERS will have to pay out to Stan Mack:

  1. Severance payment (Section IX.E.) is one-half of his annual salary (50% x $169,753) $84,876 after he already received over a six month notice.  OVER THE TOP!
  2. Pay out of his unused annual leave (Section V.C.) (max of 25 day per year of contract & 200 day in total).  Our educated guess is that Superintendent Stan Mack is at MAXIMUM 200 DAYS [($169,753 ÷ 260 days) x 200] $130,579.
  3. Health Insurance – family coverage (Section VI.A.) until age 65.  $250-$300 per month times 6 years is $18K-$21K.  WAY OVER THE TOP!

Download and read Mack’s contract for reference. We certainly hope that the School Board will be MORE FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE when hiring a new Superintendent.  Let all School Board members know how OUTRAGED you are at the previous FISCAL IRRESPONSIBILITY.

Also, keep the pressure on the Administration and School Board to do what the majority of the community said they wanted on the Strategic Plan.  And make sure that they follow through, measure progress each year and make corrections as needed.

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The Numbers Say It All!

Posted by 281 CARE on November 1, 2008

Please read the 281 District data provided at Coalition for Minnesota Businesses.

Chart: State Aid per student (RSD 281)

Average state aid per student (green line) compared to inflation (red line).

Chart: Enrollment and Revenue (RSD 281)

Total enrollment (blue line) & General Fund Revenue (green line).

It’s not a revenue problem, it’s a SPENDING problem! Vote NO to both questions November 4.

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Rebuttal to Star Tribune Article on Mack’s Departure

Posted by 281 CARE on October 27, 2008

In response to the Star Tribune article on Superintendent Mack’s retirement:

To Patrice Relerford,

You news story has some incorrect facts and half truths.  First, Superintendent Mack was not in anyway spearheading the strategic planning process (over the previous four years the strategic planning never got “OFF the Ground”).  The community spearheaded the strategic planning process after the levy failed and the District showed they had no plans. The pressure from the community is what is spearheading most the change going on in the District.

Second, School Board Chair Green’s statement that “Stan has given the district 150 percent all the time and works at the highest level of integrity,” is not shared by a majority of the community, employees or students within ISD #281.  Many believe that Superintendent Mack’s lack of being proactive and only reacting to crisis is a large factor in many of the District’s current problems.

Lastly, the statement “He is known throughout the district for his willingness to meet with district residents or employees whose views about educational issues differed from his own” is only true to the point of him trying to CHANGE those people’s minds and he talks 80-90% of the meeting (in many parts of the world this is referred to as “PROPGANDA”).

Since Superintendent Mack’s retirement has become public, I have only heard cheers and the comment that the School Board better get a new Superintendent who is willing to CHANGE THE STATUS QUO.

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Breaking News – Superintendent Stan Mack To Retire!

Posted by 281 CARE on October 24, 2008

Read the MN Sun Post’s article announcing Superintendent Mack’s retirement from District 281.

We commend Superintendent Mack for finally making the decision to leave District 281 (for the good of the community, he should have communicated his retirement earlier than two weeks before the election). We hope that the school board takes this opportunity to accelerate a move toward improving the leadership within ISD #281. However, this is only one part of the changes that will need to be made in the leadership within the District.

The community will be watching VERY CLOSELY what the school board does over the next few months.

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“2 Million Minutes” Documentary and Panel Discussion Oct. 27

Posted by 281 CARE on October 24, 2008

On Monday the 27th, from 6:30-8:30pm the Minneapolis School “Vote No” group is screening “2 Million Minutes” documentary on education in the US, India and China.

After the screening there will be a panel discussion, and Ron Stoffel will be a member.  The address of the studio is 125 SE Main Street, Suite #244, Mpls., MN 55414.  Their web address is mtn.org.  All are invited.

We are going to try to get the 90 minute total program on to NW Cable before the election.

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Referendum Shows on NWCT & Channel 12

Posted by 281 CARE on October 21, 2008

The host and guests on Vicki’s Parlour will be discussing the proposed District 281 referendum:

Thursday, October 23, 2008 11:30PM
(Channel 19) Vicki’s Parlour [30 minutes]
Hold On To Your Wallets
Tax Grab Alert!
Recorded: Thu, Oct 16, 2008

The program repeats every 6 hours through Friday, October 24th, 5:30 PM.

NWCT program schedule


Channel 12 interviewed us this week and will be included in a referendum levy program:

Friday, October 24, 2008 4:00 pm
(Channel 12)
Link to view Channel 12 program schedule for repeat broadcasts.

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Questions Related to Referendum

Posted by 281 CARE on October 21, 2008

To Board Members,

As I and others are talking with the RAS community, some questions are coming up many times;

1.)  Why is RAS asking for a 7 year referendum, when your projects from the Director of Finance at the July meeting show that a $15/month increase will only last for 3-5 years?  They are not seeing any answer on the website or in other materials.

2.)  Is the Superintendent’s contract, which ends on June 30, 2009, being extended or is a search for a replacement going to be started?  Is there any information on this item available?

3.)  Why has RAS over the last 4 years negotiated to give its employees total increase of 11% at the same time the MN Legislator give the school district about a 11% total increase in its basic funding?  It appears that RAS expected that all other cost in the District were going to increase by 0%.  How can this be explained?

Can you point them to an answer to these questions?  If you can provide answers to these questions that are being asked in the community, I would appreciate providing RAS’s replies.  Thanks.

Best Regards,
Ron Stoffel

Posted in Questions, referendum | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »