More Muddling at Fox

5 Jan

Recently hired Fox C-6 assistant superintendent Andy Arbeitman was awarded a $66,000 buyout in November under the quietly revised new policies for the voluntary separation incentive program (VSIP). According to the Countian newspaper, assistant superintendents Dan Baker (one of the defamatory Topix posters) and Todd Scott (enabler of nepotism hires) have also applied for this lucrative payout.

12-19-14 article in Jefferson Countian

12-19-14 article in Jefferson Countian

The headline is not quite right: only one retirement (Arbeitman’s) has been approved. And it was “approved” in the sense that the board decided that it had no need to vote on his request; he automatically got it upon asking. According to Fox CFO John Brazeal’s summary of the advice of the district law firm, “the program is an offer to employees. When an eligible employee accepts the district’s offer, a contact results. Offer + Acceptance = Agreement. Thus, no Board action is necessary to approve and eligible employee’s participation in the program.”

That being the case, though, board president John Laughlin said to the Countian that the board had yet to approve the Baker and Scott VSIP requests, so I don’t know what he’s talking about. Unless a change is made, the two will automatically waltz away with over $70,000 each, according to Fox C-6 Watchdogs. (I should note that unlike Arbeitman, Baker and Scott have more than 10 years of service with the district [20 each, in fact]. The rules used to require 10 years of service to receive VSIP money).

The Leader reported on December 24 that, when the board renewed administrator contracts at the December 16 meeting, Baker and Scott (and a couple of others) were not renewed because they were “still being evaluated,” according to board members. But perhaps Baker and Scott were omitted only because they knew this retirement request was coming (if not already in process). And here I thought they were going to potentially take a (half-hearted, belated) stand on behalf of residents of the district.

New Crutchley Contract

As I mentioned above, 36 administrator contracts were renewed at the last Fox board meeting. One was for acting superintendent Tim Crutchley, with apparently no real dissent (unless it was raised in closed session). Dave Palmer did vote ‘no’ on the renewals, but only because he wanted to see all admins (including Baker and Scott, apparently) receive new contracts. Even if resistance to Crutchley’s new contract was raised in closed session, we know that it was not enough to make anyone else vote ‘no’ on the renewals.

I’m not sure why Crutchley has avoided real scrutiny over the various Fox scandals. Crutchley had his own share of credit card transactions that demand explanation. He also attended the Marzano conference in what was an expensive boondoggle for Fox administrators. He even booked a $1,000 hotel room for disgraced former superintendent Dianne Critchlow for the conference, according to Elliot Davis, although the final cost for her room was only about $550 per night. Crutchley said he was just following orders, but that he (shockingly) didn’t regret his actions. Furthermore, it is just hard for me to believe that he had no inkling of all the abuse that was going on under the Critchlow regime.

One could probably ask the same questions about the renewal of assistant superintendent Lorenzo Rizzi’s contract (though he did not attend Marzano). Here’s how he explained his credit card charges to the Post-Dispatch:

Rizzi also wanted to stress that he had done nothing wrong. He said a $739 charge at Pomodoro’s was for about 115 staff members to award Fox High School teachers for having the highest attendance rate in the district.

He also other charges at Bellacino’s and 54th Street Grill and Bar were for staff meetings and professional development.

But once again, the school board seems to see the Critchlow scandals as merely something to endure, to slog through, with occasional policy changes for appeasement of the masses, rather than a glaring sign that systemic change and a thorough cleaning is needed in the district.

The next board meetings are a workshop on January 6 and a regular meeting on January 20, if you want to comment on this, or just see what happens. The Baker and Scott VSIP requests should appear in the board packet for the meeting on the 20th. Watch for the packet to be posted here.

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