WBEN NewsRadio 930>Audio & Video on Demand>>Interim Buffalo School Supt. Don Ogilvie

Interim Buffalo School Supt. Don Ogilvie

Aug 17, 2014|

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Let's start out the program today with Don Ogilvie the interim superintendent of buffalo schools back on the job for roughly one month little bit longer than that. Coming up in our second hour of today by the way we will talk about the five things that buffalo needs as a region. I have to underline that point as a region to move forward. And there's a group called one region forward oddly enough. They've got basically pulled together a group of ideas. And won the public to help develop the future of the city and kind of talk about the kind of things that the region needs will get to that the second hour. But let's welcome superintendent. Don Ogilvie thanks for being here -- Good morning -- thank you. This was a week when you dealt with teacher layoffs and I promise we will get to that before the end of the program. But I wanted to do more of an overview at the start here you've been on the job. A little over a month. What's the hardest thing you've had to do in that time. Well I group guess first let me say that. It's an honor for me to be selected as the interim superintendent. -- hobbling but I'm also aware of the challenges that are there are buckled the unique. District for the normal. Typically an interim superintendent. Is in place or six months or less and then the intended to maintain stable system. I think it brought both cases a couple of things that make it different number one there's newly -- board of education. Nine members. But there have been changes within those nine. And at the same time. There are they key vacancy. In the hierarchy of leadership from the -- public schools that have gone unfilled as a result of the departures of individuals. So there. There are some immediate thing that has captured my attention and -- working to. To address those right off the -- What do you think is the toughest of those challenges though. Well that report made it clear that they're Grand Slam to their past. I could have used that phrase. We want to always be aware of the need to -- about it the same time we want to be able -- Address the long term interest the kind that comes through creating a stable. An online system. So of the challenges that I face. I guess you could break them out into a couple of different categories. We want to open the schools. Effectively and well with the enthusiasm. And that begin very soon. And we're working -- our building principals and achieve its leadership. To do weekly school readiness surveyed to make sure the world world also to go. Implementing the budget that was adopted by the last board. In May. I have had many implications. Is that complex document. 800 million dollars. And it. You know buried within -- are many. Program changes and a staffing changes have to be addressed. At the same time we have a partner in the State of New York. It brings out some negative feeling that many people. But nevertheless. Well public school. Through the accountability system. Have taken on a partnership. And with that partnership. Then the compliance issues that have to be addressed so the short term. Opening the schools implementing the budget dressing compliance issues. Is there one thing you think you've had to do. That hasn't really been noticed may be the biggest seed planted in the ground that you -- a bear the the really really big fruit later. Well there's. Certainly. The 1 thing that I am putting the most. Important right now is the red in this aspect. But. Analyzing the mission in the design of the capacity it's central office in the key pieces that. I was the board. Approval of my recommendation to hire. A chief of curriculum assessment and instruction. And then -- -- very experienced. Educational leader and not only at the district level or fifteen years and the superintendent Williams will. But also a deputy superintendent in the city of Syracuse. And war period of time I deputy commissioner in the state Texas. Her experience her perspective. The background. We will begin to benefit from tomorrow tomorrow's her first day in the district and I've. I asked her to focus first and familiarize herself. We have the strength that we have in the district. But also with the critical lie and I don't mean that in a negative way but critical lie to make sure that the role. A -- team I designed properly. If they're connected effectively. And that we only have to focus. Program improvement. But most important making -- staff. Familiar with the changes that are expected at all. Well Google's that we elect to take ourselves so. That that that's a rocket hit it it's more than one person -- I think there's. A shift that. We're going to encourage and expect. And having a customer relationship. Internal customers. Central market. Is intended to serve the needs of the building. And we don't want to rely on old structures. Or on certain structures. For new work is the is an organization of world war we have. Is the central office top heavy at one point under your predecessors. Your immediate predecessor but at one point they had as many as fourteen assistant to deputy superintendent. Is it still top heavy. I wouldn't say how heavy because number one there are five vacancies. My concern more is -- It is dying and the rule the design. Is. Arnold. Into a deputy superintendent position. And the connections. Of what we -- and have been calling -- leadership. And those of the individuals who were there principal. And ensure that instructional improvement take place those rules. Need to be refined. I'm concerned that the ratios and she's the school leadership to building principals to I. We're world we have inexperience principle we have a new agenda coming at us from the state. We have the information that we glean from -- student test result. All of those things are factored into building the confidence. Well look the confidence of principles. So that they can work with their stance and -- its leadership. Must step up to those positions so we're looking to make sure that we have the right job descriptions. -- -- here that they are accepting of that mission. And that they have themselves. The competent and tools. The willingness to block or make a difference. Let me ask you more directly do you picture yourself cutting. In the central office. At this point. I would expect that there will be cut but I would never commit to a number. But it that the number of them certainly you wanna be with that a budget. You want to make sure that you. I never. Accused of having it happen in the administration that is another one of those things that I inherited from design that was. Put in place last year. The key for me is too if we need if we need and we need twenty. I'll -- justify. Side and 120 and make it different with. It. -- that hugely different. Environment for work now in the public schools because there is. -- too reliant. I data analysis and interpretation. And these continual training of teachers that'll leave for new curriculum. And also the instructional techniques that will bring about. And different anticipated. Outcome in Austin. It is it -- deeper dive. In our curriculum. It feel more analysis. And thinking skills and application -- is never been. He can now is is that for the sake of our. Nor is being an administrator. Assess your core of principles are they up to the task. There will be. There was a core principles. That is ready to go on we're gonna rely and that's their experience that only within their own building. But among their peers but clearly the expectation and the obligation. Is to provide. A continuing agenda. Of training programs so that when they walk into -- classroom. They know what to look war and they can provide actionable feedback to our teachers. In order to have that he's back. Be implemented there have to be relationships so we're dealing with the culture. -- within individual buildings and across the district. This is complex work but. My. Intent. My commitment. Is to make sure that our principal. I have no equals that they are not only capable of doing the job. But they're bringing every day their enthusiasm and their skill. Let's talk about this round of layoffs announced on Friday 63 teachers across to arrange of subjects. The soon be the president of the teacher's union buffalo teachers federation president bill remark. Has called a heartless said you shouldn't of waited to the last minute a lot of these teachers now won't have the time to find other jobs is too close to start. Of school in any district that they could work and your response. -- -- -- I think the expression heartless. Mrs. The intent of everybody in the vocal public school. This was. A move that was based upon budget assumptions that were about to die aboard last may. And you go into that budget book and you forecast 19100 if you were student. But you take a look also -- factors. Related to. And -- no longer and the ninth grade and those students were moved into other building. Many of those students depending on the number of buildings that they went to. We'll fill vacant seat and existing classroom. Resulting in less need for teachers. You're taking a look. And not only at that bad but it -- former pinnacle charter school. Emerging. In several other buildings again with students filling -- vacancy. The school based. Budgeting process right now vested. Responsibility. Of our to our principles. And to make some staffing decisions themselves. And they exercised those and those results it. In less need. The -- motion. That there would be -- Was. First discussed when it but it was developed. Let me. Do we want. To just leave that ad -- 63 -- no we are beginning again notices of retirement request for leave of absence. I'm hopeful that. We will refer some of those 63. But it will be a last minute thing and I have to believe that it is always been -- relatively last minute thing. I'm in a public school anywhere -- -- included. If this is driven by finances. Why not pursue. Retirement buyout or incentive offered even from the state. Couldn't you get rid of a lot more higher priced. Maybe even entrenched teachers that way. Changing the budget and having newer more youthful may be more flexible and certainly less expensive teachers command if you. If you were to do that instead. Well that would require. Being at the table and negotiation. Which we have not been able to achieve were in fact finding right now with the BP L. And -- processes moving along. Slowly but steadily. What does that mean explain that process if you can't. The there was an attempt within the last full year year and a half. To get the parties together and they went through mediation. Mediator. Submitted a report. Suggested areas where common ground could be achieved. Both parties we use those. The call was made for fact finding which is further complications of the that they relative position. And that report within the next month will be reviewed by a purpose. Point of fact finder and then we will have the opportunity to see. Where we are in the process. As far as instead you know those those are all week. Part of the negotiations process. We have. Nine bargaining unit seven of them without contracts. What do you want in the negotiations. Some board members have said they wouldn't mind giving teachers a raise. If they get some more flexibility maybe even longer school hours or more school days are you a like mind. Either -- that the board of education has expressed that and I'm pleased because those are the general parameters of and he negotiation is to make sure. And through the bargaining agreement we have the flexibility. To adapt to. Such thing as. Professional development. Opportunities. Making sure that. Schedule changes missile and can be done. With a little bit more autonomy. So certainly that the equation. But India compensation. Commensurate with a changes in work rules but again that the process that is done across the table between. Bargaining team. Are you. I obviously this is a public kind of discussion we're having here. Are you optimistic if you weren't you might not say so but do you think this is achievable. I think it's going to go a little bit farther. Before we get to that point. And any one of the factors will be how the news the respective parties respond to -- -- -- report. Is this. Latest round of layoffs something that can be seen by either party as an opening gambit does it set or change the tone and anyway. And then that. Essentially error result. Resource. Revenue limitation. Of enrollment changes. And they're trying to balance out. The class size of the crowd the district. It cliff side. Provisions there something that -- superintendent. Of the leery of putting it to contract. Only because you need that flexibility but the layout. That are. At this point if you treat people receive notices. Were hoping far fewer than 63. Actually leave. And the fact. Call back in time to start the school year that -- we'll have to see what kind of enrollment. We're addressing. And the opening of school. All right we had a lot more to get to and including some commercials that were late for Don Ogilvie is here interim superintendent buffalo schools newly elected about a month ago. When we come back we'll start take a couple of phone calls will only have a minute or two before we break for news. And then remainder of the program will try to squeeze in as many of your concerns and questions we can't. 8030930. As the number if you have a question for superintendent Ogilvy now's the time to jump onboard. We'll get a up speed with calls after this. It's hard line and his radio 930 WB and good morning this is Dave -- our guest this first -- ready to take some of the calls is interim buffalo schools superintendent Don Ogilvie. Numbers 8030930. If you dial and now we will have to have me on hold for newscast but we will certainly get to whatever questions you have for him. And indeed there are a lot of questions there is violence on the streets of buffalo. There are kids killing kids is that's something a school district should be involved -- -- Ogilvy. Well certainly -- were young people spend a good portion of their day. Is -- the place where the violence began. Is that the cause itself on all the issues that take place on the street of course that. But I think between. Keeping our school. Secure -- security officers. With training our teachers our administrators. But most important we're dealing with young people. But let them know that if they have information. That could lead to some kind of -- and or violent issue potentially. I think they should share -- an adult that we can make provisions. All right very good will pick up on that on the other side this is a school district that is some scene some say is in crisis. Not graduating enough there are layoffs the future contracts we've touched on all of that on the table and we continue. We'll take your calls after this it's hard line on news radio 930. WB yen. It's hard line a news radio 930 WB and good morning this state you -- Interim buffalo schools superintendent Don Ogilvie is with us on the line -- take your calls. 8030930. If you have concerns obviously about the way the system is being run. Artists for so long leading up to his appointment this position there was a lot of analysts say turmoil but certainly a lot of concern. About how the region can survive if the city school system can't. So I know there are folks out there that are concerned about the topic and we would love to have you on board right now 803 on 930. Mister Ogilvie talked a little bit about the the time before you came in and the time now. Yes there's been a change of the school board you alluded to that. But there's also a group of -- minority school board members right now. That abstained from appointing new. Have today in any way changed their position have they warmed to you have you reached out to them talk about there position on the board. And whether or not that's an anyway and optical port. Well I certainly a number one. I have met with them individually and as a group. Participated with. In community forum. They maintained. And with media and members of the I think there's a flow of information and I think the longer we. Work together. The more likely it is that we went home from being able to say there are. X number of members who have this position and X number of members who -- this position. Saying we have nine board members who are now confident enough with each other. Confident in the plan we have going forward and that they can begin to work -- old government body. Do the minority board members have legitimate race based concerns in your book. BA. As head. Well an extended period of time when there was. A majority. In power and I use that -- power. You know advice simply. But certainly. It is a difficult adjustment to go from having votes. To put an agenda forward. Who now not having votes to put an agenda forward and so that adjustment. In the influence patterns of weather at all attributable or to what extent is attributable to race remains to be seen. I want the board and I hope this board. Will be judged by actions and that -- rhetoric. In a district that is when we look at the student population majority minority. Can you be is it okay if you law race blind or. What about the other side of the coin doesn't make sense for you to look at things differently realizing that this is an urban school district with a predominantly African American population. I would I would never ignore the realities of race. In. Buffalo and in Western New York. It is a very complicated process. -- phenomenon I guess would be the better way to say it. It is. It has that effect. Apparently in many if not most of the decisions that are made. It's it's regrettable. But like many things as the roots. And there are issues that our. Brought up to justify it. Lack of confidence or concerns going forward. I think we. One of the things that I talk. To various groups of this is a threefold. Approach that the future one is let's be honest with each other. Let -- be trustworthy do what we can make things better. But the most important is let's be trusting and two. Not allow. The future can be very -- the past. This is -- question may -- -- rest of the beginning of the program as I'm sure the answer is a lot larger than the amount of time we have left but how do you increase graduation rates. I didn't how how do you increase graduation rates I'm sure -- the answer is probably a lot larger than the amount of time we have left but. What's relevant let let me really cut to the case it certainly it. The greater obligation. Is and our instructional side of the house. Do we have classroom teachers that understand and know. Their curriculum and they adapted to new techniques. Administrators who can guide and lead and support. But I think there are two keys. The first one is. How we may. Our schools. And institutions. Play places that attract and can keep their students. You do this to variety of programs variety of pathways to graduation. But -- one piece -- I think is still missing. And that is a concerted effort. To. Engage students. In. Many of the decisions. Or at least in providing input to the decisions that are made about the future direction school. We have adults talking at each other over each other around each other. Combined knowledge. The schools have not. Benefited from. Atom powered informed voice of students in this structure. That will allow the the adult. To see the effect. Young people but some of the decisions that are being made. I don't presuppose -- speak for a board of education. I think in any respect adults should not presuppose to speak for us to. We need to find and we will. A direct particularly good program for empowering students to be if you will members at the table. I -- strapped to -- extrapolate are you saying then we need. More programs based on what they want to give them what they want maybe more magnet schools more options in terms of what what they're being offered. And that's saying a particular. Agenda of items and saying that. We need to hear from students about what it's like to be a student. In high school. Today. What are the stresses that they have what are the opportunities that they think they need how can things be improved. For their benefit in at least two. A change in where we locate their schools or how we design their schools they took all the overtime debt that comes about but. Having the channel for the -- -- students. Finding out what. It will pay for our schools to be attractive inviting. And sustaining institutions with them. That message needs to get that you don't. At this point. Board meeting. Faculty meeting. Oftentimes. Talk around this student. Our kids not involved because the parents are involved addressed parental involvement if he can. Well I don't know I think it probably some of the same reasons but. Student involvement is is something that. It's historic -- lack of student involved and it's something that this store that only -- -- and in many places. And I think we have to recognize now that students are more informed they are more worldly. They have access to resources. And access to influences. There are issues. Three in their groups and so on. That affect. What the schools do and should do and we need to get young people understanding of the school experience. And bring that into the discussion with -- and feeling very strong obligation. That we need to have. A world class education is that the right parade but. We need to combine the expectations of this state. The program that we put together we have the cultural. Imperatives. Of what it takes decrees will be inviting and that will keep their kids. So it almost sounds like him from putting words in your mouth you're correct me that almost sounds like you're saying. The system has failed these kids in more than just not graduating them. It's only failure that that reversible and at this point let go forward and make a commitment. To empowering our students and getting them some of the discussions. It it's almost impossible for an adult. To understand how students proceed with schooling experience. Always have to do is a two group of adult. Tell me about your last high school reunion. And you'll see. Topic of conversation. Immediately. Referred to what they experience when they -- -- a lot of that is. Is the kind of thing that left. Painful memories a lot of it is the kind of thing that were missed opportunities or I didn't realize this -- that was happening. So using my own experience as an adult and I know I am not alone and let but the boys they're 25 reunion volleys. I. Getting kids involved right now as partners in designing and sustaining their schools. Let's bring in a couple phone calls now 8030930s. Are numbered Don Ogilvie interim superintendent buffalo schools. The ticket -- Jon and Rochester hello. Eight -- You know I am listening to you and you get that same important elections that partly -- That it. But I opened his record at the that the couple elected warrior young -- -- Well although quite up. Would ratchet and actually -- -- we have more urgent problem our graduation rates go and we get them there. I don't care who. Proponent and advocate of charter schools. And let's all my one question and how do you see charter school he thinks. They charter school people -- because they can present. A petition. To the traditional. -- public school the second question is vouchers. It took a bullet fired advocating universal culture but what are your thoughts. Well ultimately I'm vouchers to -- any competition. Through the public schools. But it failing public school. We'll be there it is there's one aspect of the charters that I think immediately. Is a positive. Is that you were designing. A school. The process requires thoughtful consideration of many aspects of schooling. If we take the status quo in the public schools. We pretty much are either. Adding to what exists or were playing around the edges -- to that extent. Charter schools provide an opportunity because it's a thoughtful plan -- stakeholders. They're not. Burdened by the past so to speak. I eat I know that there are members. This board of education debt view charters is not normally. Part of the short term solution to create seats in successful squirrel. We're all in good standing as is the more technical trade. But also as a possible future policy direction. That remains to be seen a terrorist groups. One of the development in the granting of a charter is. For all intents and purposes an eighteen month the two year process. So even if there was some great conviction right now. The charter schools with the answer. Would be looking and more than likely it's 1617. Before anyone want to begin. I think we need to expect. Those kinds of discussions. A with a number of schools we have as priorities and what I expected and I think. You know we will. What was an accurate. All right we hourly for another one of those breaks on the other side couple more phone calls before the top of the hour. Don Ogilvie is the year interim superintendent of buffalo schools it's hard line on news radio 930 WB. It's hard line on news radio 930 WB and and have time to squeeze in the last couple calls here will grow quickly I promised superintendent Don Ogilvie is here from buffalo schools. Let's bring John in buffalo and good morning. Morning I just had a question I was wondering at the yeah. Sort and it was concerned at all labor strike its first the teachers -- -- there. Ten years and our contract if it's longer that a concerted. Do you think it's a possibility -- probably. I -- I am not aware of any discussions or. Information that it would lead to a response of that nature. Certainly it would be. Very disruptive. The start of the school year. I don't think it serves any purpose. In terms of repairing relationships. That made from time to time the tenth. Do you think the lack of a contract actually serves the teachers because. They get to exist under the current framework instead of moving ahead 21 that you might want instead. Through media what's referred to try federal amendment to detail a law. -- terms and conditions do continue. Until the successor agreement adapted so. And to that extent. Not changing the contract has advantages. And do you think Kim might be why there hasn't been a contract. -- should that factor. I put more of reliance no. So many priorities. That each side -- That at this point there aren't just irreconcilable. -- the mediation process was intended. To find common ground -- has left the still a part. Perhaps -- fact finding little will inch closer to something but in any event. In my experience that Patrick negotiations reflect the culture of an organization. As opposed to drive it. -- -- And -- -- squeeze in one more call in town wonder if you quick that can be you go ahead. Okay good morning and you're confident very thoughtful discussion on what I would like at isn't he the government considered. A teacher it license. Let doctors and nurses -- certain. On a licensing process take place for each. They kind of -- but I think inherent your question you're talking about certain qualifications and a certification process beyond just educational achievement. The federal legislation -- of the top has brought many many changes. Among them. Is the change in the certification process for both teachers and administrators. I think people would be surprised. At the depth. And the involvement. Demonstration. That now is required by both teachers. And administrators. -- -- sure that they can do the work. But also demonstrate the knowledge required. To perform those -- Is it. Complete. Is -- finish is that the best that could possibly be I suppose there will always be evolution. But it is nowhere near. Some of the past perceptions that if you complete -- course -- you're qualified to teach we're way beyond that. And a final -- the one topic and get to touch on update the talks with Johns Hopkins is it certain that they're pulling out of the turnaround at east in Lafayette. Or is their chance that he could still bring them back into the process. I -- protected just not in. Came public well with their desire to end the relationship is is very important. We are awaiting some final discussion with the state Education Department. At this point. I think we need to buffalo public schools. I'm -- Lafayette and east. I need to begin. Taking a look at what do we do next but the one thing that I don't want to stress. Is that Lafayette and he's -- -- will open on time. They will be in session for the 1415. School year. And I think the content and in the -- from the in the administration. Should recognize that 1415 is a huge year not only war demonstrating. That they can get the job done. But conducting their attitude that there's no better place to be. Than right here right now. Two piggyback on the -- earlier callers and mention of Marv -- All right super -- well said thanks for your time let -- join us this morning. --