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Skelly moves to fill school vacancies

Original post made on Jun 19, 2013

Palo Alto School Superintendent Kevin Skelly said he has extended a job offer to a prospective communications officer for the school district and also has chosen a finalist to replace departing Director of Secondary Education Michael Milliken.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:19 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by Shame on You, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] What a way to waste tax dollars when minority students are falling behind. [Portion removed.] Shame on him and on the board members who approved the position.


Posted by mind boggling, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:11 am

"Critics of the district say the move is a public-relations ploy to cover up administrative shortcomings."

Critics issue information requests that cause the requirement to hire a communications officer to satisfy the requests. Then the critics complain about the hiring of said officer.


Posted by Seeking Transparency, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:20 am

When is Dr. Skelly going to release the survey results? I believe that there has been a request for those to be made public.

When are they going to be available? Hopefully the Bored will take a look at them before awarding Dr. Skelly an extension, pat on the back and huge bravo for all the exceptional things he has been doing for us in the past year.

I am totally appalled at the hiring of the PR person. Talk about Spin Doctor! Dr. Skelly should be ashamed as should the board for spending these much needed dollars trying to cover for horrible blunders and outright lies!


Posted by Disappointed!, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:21 am

I agree.. What a waste of tax dollars! Mr. Skelly, keep your budget in the classroom! I will definitely remember this when its time to vote on any bond!


Posted by Robert, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

$150K a year for a PR hack? What a farce! That could almost pay for two beginning teachers.

What does this say about Skelly's priorities? A lot -- and it isn't laudable.


Posted by reality check, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:34 am

Mind boggling is engaged in misdirection. The public record requests the district responds to are almost entirely from the press, not "critics". The idea that we need a full-time PR person to answer record requests is silly. The PR person is being hired to do PR. I think they will find though that some turds will never shine no matter how expensively polished.


Posted by Sack the Board, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

Skelly performs his shenanigans under the auspixes of the board.

The Board is supposed to represent the public interest and have been asleep at the switch.

Let's throw them out at the next election.


Posted by mind boggling, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:48 am

@reality check
"Board members said the communications job is needed to handle a high volume of information requests directed at the district office, which they say is understaffed."
It's all there. This isn't misdirection, it's fact.
The critics appear to believe district staff are only there to service their requests. That somehow there is no cost to it. When the cost materializes, they then complain about the cost.
Reality Check believes he knows the cost of servicing all these requests better than the district staff. Maybe he should apply for the job.


Posted by district critic, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 19, 2013 at 11:20 am

Don't forget noted "district critic" Sandra Pearson who really took Skelly and the board to the woodshed over this. We could have a lot of summer school (almost half the current program) fully funded by the salary of this flak. Thanks again useless figurehead board.


Posted by Thank you Board, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

Interesting that people choose to criticize the board in caustic terms, when almost no-one is willing to volunteer to serve. In 2009 the election was cancelled for lack of candidates. In 2012, there was only one more than the spots available, and the losing candidate said that he ran in part simply to ensure that an election would be held.

The board members volunteer a huge volume of hours (20-40 a week, I'm told), and put themselves out there to make difficult decisions. While you may or may not agree with them, surely they deserve our thanks for their service and efforts. And I urge those who offer such harsh criticism to step up and give it a try, and see how the limelight suits you.


Posted by mind boggling, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 19, 2013 at 11:32 am

@district critic,
The cost is already there. How do you think these information requests are being funded? They're not free.
If the information requests stop, the district can remove the position as has been done previously and use the money for summer school programs.


Posted by Also Boggled, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2013 at 11:47 am

It appears to many that the "press" and the "critics" are pretty much the same thing. The Weekly and it's publisher seem to be on a personal mission to bring down a school superintendent. One gets the feeling the local "press" thinks it is uncovering Watergate here. I would like to ask the Weekly: How many "requests" for information have been made and how much has the district needed to spend to keep up with them? How much money that could have been spent on students, classrooms, programs and, say, summer school? This is a serious question and I hope the Weekly will respond in some detail.


Posted by isez, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm

isez is a registered user.

I'm not a fan of the BoE or Skelly either, especially after Everyday Math was bullied into our system. But I do think Skelly's one redeeming quality is that he chooses great principals. Let's hope he will find us another good principal for Paly, although no one will be as amazing as Phil Winston. Surprise us, please.


Posted by wmartin46, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm

wmartin46 is a registered user.

> But I do think Skelly's one redeeming quality is that
> he chooses great principals.

That's what Superintendents are supposed to do—ensure that the organization runs well through the selection of good managers.

> Critics issue information requests that cause the requirement
> to hire a Communications officer to satisfy the requests. Then
> the critics complain about the hiring of said officer.

The PAUSD has not yet produced a cost-to-produce number that reflects just how much time/money they have spent satisfying the requests for information that they have received/serviced on a yearly basis. The PAUSD has yet to show much understanding of how to use the Internet to make its information available on-line, so that they don't have to respond to as many individual requests as they do.

In my opinion, this PR "official" will not be worth the money paid in salary/benefits. If the District would just move more of its information on-line, transparency would be greatly increased. It's difficult to believe that this PR Officer will actually increase the transparency problems which many people see with the PAUSD.


Posted by Chris Kenrick, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Chris Kenrick is a registered user.

The PAUSD website has a list of Public Records Act requests made in 2012 and 2013: Web Link

The job description for the new communications position, as discussed by Board of Education members when they approved it March 12, goes beyond fulfilling these requests to include duties typical of communications officers in public agencies.

The funding allocation was part of $2.6 million in additional spending in 12 categories that was approved that night. The largest item was $425,000 toward principals' discretionary funds. Also on the list was $300,000 in new funds for high school counseling.


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