Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.

“Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss. . .”

–The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again, 1971

Experts who study behavioral decision-making tell us that – while our brain is capable of learning from mistakes – unless we adapt and use hard-earned knowledge to our advantage, most often, what we learn is how to make more mistakes. 

They say the counterintuitive reason is the time spent not remembering reinforces the “mistake pathway.”  The brain, much like a complex bureaucracy, reinforces whatever it does, and mistakes beget mistakes, leading to what scientists call “trial and error learning.” 

Through repeated ordeals, and the resultant pain or disastrous implications of our actions, over time, errors reduce as we become more risk-adverse, using experience to our advantage, and begin to factor alternatives, possibilities, and an analysis of potential outcomes into the process.

This “experiential learning” is the most expensive education one can achieve – and not the preferred method if you perform intricate surgical procedures, operate a nuclear powerplant, or cross Granada Boulevard on a regular basis. . .

And it should not be used when selecting a suitable superintendent for a school district with a budget over $1 billion simoleons and growing ‘trust issues’ with students, teachers, parents, staff, and taxpayers.

In recent days, an item was quietly added to the Volusia County School Board’s agenda by attorney Ted Doran, which said:  

“Appointment of former Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Carmen Balgobin, as Superintendent of the School Board of Volusia County, Florida for a three year term, subject to negotiation of mutually agreeable employment contract(.)”

You read that right.

Yes, it’s a grammatical nightmare.  And the title doesn’t match the job description – but its “…close enough for government work,” as we used to say when I was spending other people’s money. . .

For background, Mr. Doran added:

“Dr. Scott Fritz served as a Superintendent of Volusia County schools from December 1, 2019 to April 12, 2022 at which time he left the School District. Dr. Carmen Balgobin served as Deputy Superintendent for the vast majority of Dr. Fritz’s tenure. Dr. Carmen Balgobin possesses a considerable and comprehensive knowledge of the School District and, if appointed, would serve as Superintendent for a minimum of three years.”

Ahhh, if it were all that simple, eh? 

While our elected dullards on the School Board may not have the capacity to recall past mistakes – those of us who pay the bills and suffer in silence certainly remember the disastrous reign of Dr. Scott Fritz, the blustery former superintendent who stormed out of our lives last month following a behind-the-scenes dustup with Chairman Ruben Colon.

Of course, Dr. Fritz’ theatrical departure was quickly followed by Mr. Doran ramrodding a lucrative severance package – a move which seemed to reinforce our worst expectations – and put a cherry on top of Fritz’ tumultuous tenure.

In the immediate aftermath, Chairman Colon began murmuring about the possibility of bringing Dr. Carmen Balgobin back to the helm. 

In July 2020, Dr. Balgobin served as interim superintendent while Dr. Fritz recovered from cancer treatments – a tumultuous time that raised questions about Balgobin’s leadership and decision-making (something she later brushed off as “inaccurate narratives”).

For instance, during the pandemic – rather than adopt a transparent two-way public communications strategy to open a dialog with worried parents and keep stakeholders up to date on the myriad delays, quarantine rumors, and issues related to their children’s education – instead, Dr. Balgobin’s administration chose to muzzle district staff, requiring that “all media communications need to be facilitated through” the district’s official mouthpiece.   

Because during a crisis, what passes for “the truth” lies with those who control the narrative. . .

In addition, the controversies included Balgobin’s off-the-agenda 34% pay increase, which brought her interim salary to a whopping $195,000

Remember?  I do.

According to reports, Balgobin’s massive increase was negotiated between Mr. Doran and then Chairwoman Ida Wright at a time when teachers and support staff were groveling for a paltry 2.5% to 3% pay increase – and the district’s Chief Financial Officer was sounding the klaxon on “…millions of dollars in lost funding: from fluctuations in student numbers compared to last year; from steady or rising operational costs; from the cost associated with personal protective equipment; and from future unknowns.”  

The vote to increase Balgobin’s salary was taken during Chairwoman Wright’s last meeting after losing her re-election bid.

In a November 2020 article in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Volusia United Educators president Elizabeth Albert described the off-the-agenda ambush as:

“It’s just hypocrisy at the greatest level,” Albert said. “I think there was a desire to slide this through, in an underhanded and deceptive way.”

Then, many taxpayers questioned Balgobin’s oddly timed decision to hire Ms. Wright immediately after she left office for an unadvertised and uncompetitive part-time job paying $35 an hour, ostensibly under a federal grant program to help Human Resources develop equity and diversity practices. . .  

You read that right. . . 

In another questionable role, as Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Balgobin was assigned by Dr. Fritz to oversee a  contracted services agreement with Ormond Beach City Commissioner Susan Persis, a retired district employee and wife of current School Board member (and Fritz cheerleader) Carl Persis, which pays her $82.00 an hour (not to exceed $23,616.00 over the life of the contract) to provide “coaching services” to principals at select schools – another questionable expense that did not come before the School Board for approval.

All perfectly legal and within Dr. Fritz’ discretionary spending authority. . .

Did I mention that questions continue to swirl around the appointment of Dr. Balgobin’s husband – Mr. Thomas Soli – who previously served as an assistant principal in Orange County Public Schools – and was appointed Principal of Riverview Learning Center in Daytona Beach over several qualified internal candidates?

Yeah.  That. 

Then, without explanation, Dr. Balgobin mysteriously jumped ship in late March when she was appointed Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for Broward County Public Schools – a move which increased her Volusia County salary of $162,363 to $220,000. . .

So, I’m going to spitball here and say “Dr. B” won’t be returning to the Fun Coast for less than that, eh?

Whatever.

In the aftermath of the abrupt departures of Fritz and Balgobin, many were hoping for a transparent and inclusive process, one which would solicit and consider the invested recommendations of parents, teachers, and staff – with fair consideration given to qualified internal candidates with a demonstrated commitment to the education of our children – and a real connection with those dedicated educators who present the curriculum in the classroom.

It’s called building confidence in the process and fostering a sense of internal and external buy-in – something that is desperately lacking in Volusia County District Schools.

I guess not. . .

Apparently, our elected officials could give two-shits what you think – they will make the decision for us – and our input in the process is neither wanted, nor welcome. 

According to the Volusia County District School’s official job description for the Superintendent, the sole “Position Goal” is, “To provide the leadership necessary to successfully achieve the mission of the Volusia County Schools.”  

Anyone think we have seen this goal accomplished under the Fritz/Balgobin administration?

I’m asking.

Because, it looks like in this anything goes environment in the Ivory Tower of Power in DeLand, its possible We do get fooled again. . .

How tragic. And completely avoidable.

14 thoughts on “Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.

  1. How much power and influence does school board attorney Ted Doran really have ?
    It seems like he might really be the problem here.

    It further appears like they are trying to ramrod this in quickly through the back door prior to the upcoming school board election.

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  2. These people are so full of shit. It amazes me that they continue to get elected. They all are vomit inducing doucebags.

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  3. After living here 5 years I see Volusia County is filled with inbreds in government.The shame is I dont know if the man I voted for and had hope was the answer.We know we must vote them all out but we need new qualified people who have no friends in this Government .You must vote in all elections but I see my new neighbors from other states dont care yet.Must say one more thing .Watched activits protesting in front of the home with families in them of 5 Supreme Court Justices.Never knew any female who got an abortion.They make the pill,condoms and Morning after pill over the counter.You want to play then do it.Lots of people lost my vote because of a crime by a government troll.Where is the FBI?

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  4. This Doran guy seems to be the Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain. The whole steaming pile in Deland is about as transparent as mud. Vote all the incumbents out in November.

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  5. Mmmm, can this be why there are 451 instructional openings at this time presumably to fill for the upcoming school year? I believe that may set a record! Anyone keeping track?

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  6. the entire education system in the usa needs to be carefully examined, weighed, cleaned and burned.

    without compiling a worrisome list just look, think and remember the horseshit shenanigans that school unions and boards have orchestrated over the last two years. across the country.

    we need to take a very pragmatic and sober look at homeschooling, community group teaching and other variants on the failed system that we have endured our entire lives.

    looks like little teddy boy is a real mover and fixer. he needs to be kicked to the curb.

    when will voters wake the flock up?

    examine. weigh. clean. burn.
    got a match?

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    1. As a veteran teacher about to retire from Volusia County Schools, I can attest to the fact that without a good union to back us up, Volusia County schools would have seen a mass exodus years ago. This is a “Right to Work” state, and the powers that be in Tallahassee over the last 21 years has done nothing but make teaching in Florida more and more difficult. Our state education system has been failing due to political ambitions at the highest levels. Remember, we have no state income tax to help fund education, and the legislature has repeatedly issued mandates that school systems typically struggle to meet, if they’re met at all. It’s a system that pits teachers against each other rather than encouraging team work, for example. So, please don’t make references to the state of education in Florida, or anywhere else in the country for that matter, unless you’ve lived it because otherwise, you have no experience and knowledge to back up your opinion. You do know what they say about opinions, right?

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      1. read the newspaper.
        that should assist you mightily in discerning the state of our indoctrination system.

        read what they are allowing in classrooms. what they are promoting.
        garbage like common core.
        garbage like critical race theory.
        and other remarkable assorted garbage.

        all are living the effects of the education system.
        suffering.
        everyone is dumbed down. clueless. dramatically.
        helpless without their smart phones.

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  7. Well newspapers really don’t provide enough information, or it’ may be slanted according to the ownership views. I don’t need to read about what’s happening in classrooms because I’ve lived it. If you really want to understand common core and/or Critical Race Theory, you may want to research the topics further. I’m not necessarily a fan of common core, but CRT is not what you think. Common sense dictates not giving students your opinion on social issues, even if it’s just to avoid having to deal with parents complaining. CRT has been around for decades and has evolved but it’s not about indoctrination. Again, if you’re seriously concerned about it, educate yourself, and direct any questions to the experts. If you really want to know what’s happening in our schools, go through some brief training and background checks and substitute in a classroom. That will give you a better idea what’s happening in classrooms as opposed to reading a newspaper article.

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  8. i have researched those topics extensively and find no remedial or validating advantage or practicality, other than continuing the overall divide and conquer of the overall agenda.

    there is plenty of negative press, especially on independent news outlets, that supports my above contention.

    if you strive to find the positive stroke to CC and CRT that is your position. however, that conflicts greatly with the concerns of many.

    perhaps if we had a few drag queens, properly gussied up, pancaked and slinging those very same praises, they might assuage our unsettled apprehensions and groom us properly.

    while you are at it, you might consider a deep dive into all these antics and find that you are actually educating yourself.

    with your pending retirement near at hand, you’ll have plenty of time to do just that.

    and, avoid the “experts” as they will only parrot what they need to parrot.

    best of luck

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    1. Well, since you have such a great handle on it all, maybe you can help fix it with your “examine. weigh. clean. burn.” technique! Good luck with that.

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      1. Lets talk about the teachers union that takes money out of your pay check but donates 95% of their yearly donations to the Dem party..Only 5 % goes to the GOP.How does it feel teachers if you are not a Dem?

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      2. i believe that we are all about to get a well-deserved wake up call regarding myriad issues that have plagued us for our entire lifetimes.
        sounds improbable, but help is on the way.

        you can tell people everything you wish and you can tell them until you (or i) might find ourselves blue in the face. they will not listen to you. they have been conditioned and properly lulled into accepting whatever enormous bag of shite is presented to them.

        it’s beyond words how complacent, apathetic and malleable many folks can be.
        happily.

        the only way to knock some sense into them is to show them.
        and boy, are we ever being shown.

        thanks a real big bunch for the kind wishes.
        onward!

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      3. Marilyn kids from Ormond go to Mainland a school that is rated a 2 out of ten.Am 74 years old and never had kids but paid for your kids and never had kids.You admit you are a Dem and praise the Dems.Why dont you look at the Pacs the 40 million dollars gave the Dems up north like $125 .000 in retirement payments a year and it goes really high for principals and superintendents.What are you going to get? Check out Phildelphia and Chicago.Guess your union forgot about you.LMFAO at Dems and I am a Dem for 53 years but will vote GOP all the way in November.Hey Marilyn why is Biden stocking formula on the borders as our babies cant get it here?.Hey teacher teach me.I had a union and it was a bosses union that the union leaders were paid off.

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