It's Time to Re-evaluate
By Alex Saitta
June 25, 2008
The Superintendent, Dr. Lee D’Andrea, replaced the food services director last week, with a person from Kershaw County and at a salary that is 79% higher.
This decision was not put to a school board vote, but if it was, I would have voted against it, like I have many of the management changes during the past two years.
The food services director’s removal was unjustified, and this adds to the list of district office heads that have been replaced without justification. Most of the new managers have come in at significantly higher salaries, with bigger staffs and have no experience working in our school district.
With the new managers coming from different districts in the state, they have different ideas on how to do things. Some are giving orders that go this way, others are giving orders going that way, and this cris-crossing maze of directives is crashing down on the heads of the principals and teachers. After two years of this, they are worn out, it has killed morale and that is hurting their ability to teach the children.
I voted against hiring the Superintendent in 2006, and I voted against extending her contract in 2007. When you put together the Superintendent pushed through the Greenville Plan, which borrowed $336 million and took away your right to vote on all that debt; how this mammoth building plan is being taken on all at once; the way the operations of the school district have been shutdown to the public and the press; how long-time managers have been pushed out and pushed aside; and the how teacher paper work has sky-rocketed with unnecessary programs like Curriculator, the Superintendent must be held accountable. I’m now thoroughly convinced she must be replaced.
The reasoning given for replacing the food services director was a recent audit by the State Office of Food Services. Despite the spin that came out of the district office, the report was actually positive.
Here are some excerpts from the 2008 Pickens County Schools Food and Nutrition Services Management Audit:
• The food presentation was excellent in each school visited.
• The quality of food provided throughout the district was extremely high.
• The district does an excellent job of providing wholesome food to children.
• The breakfast and lunch menus as planned and served, offered a wide variety of well-prepared and attractively presented foods.
• The result is outstanding food quality of known nutritional quality that meets nutritional standards and USDA meal pattern requirements.
• The students seem satisfied with their breakfasts and lunch.
• It shows in the very caring manner in which students are treated by staff.
• Employees appeared to have work schedules and were following them.
• The serving areas and dining rooms in each of the schools visited were well appointed and clean.
• All school kitchens visited were extremely clean.
The Superintendent cited concerns, some cited in the report, most not. For example, she wrote about “serious equipment needs at certain schools.” The audit didn’t say that. It said, “in most schools reviewed equipment was adequate and maintained.” No doubt the equipment is old. All our facilities are old! Old ovens are no more the fault of the food service director than it is a principal whose school has bathrooms from the 1950’s.
The feeble reasoning provided in replacing the director of food services was a ruse. The Superintendent’s real objective is to replace the district office’s management team with those from outside the county. As a result, the managers will be totally allegiant to the Superintendent and no one else inside the county, and will jump when she says jump. When this is complete, my fear is she’ll zero in on the next level of management — the principals, especially those with ties to past administrations or who have been resistant to her ideas of change.
The school board majority has rubberstamped the purging of our local management structure, and every other recommendation the Superintendent has made. It is time for the board to lead and thoroughly re-evaluate all these changes and the Superintendent and her long-term plan.