A Foregone Conclusion

As regular readers of these jeremiads know, each Friday, Barker’s View hosts something I like to call “Angels & Assholes” – a jaded look at who tried to screw us, and who tried to save us, during the week that was.

Guess which column the Volusia County School Board will appear in this week?

On Tuesday evening, stakeholders sat slack jawed as they realized just how far afield the Volusia County School Board has strayed from the fundamental principles of our democratic system – now charging headlong into the realm of tinpot despots convinced of their own infallibility – as they arrogantly ignored the fervent pleas of their staff, constituents – even their own written rules and policies.

With a wave of their gilded scepter, our elected dullards unanimously appointed a controversial chief executive with no identifiable public process or input.

The move came following an eleventh-hour manipulation of the public agenda telegraphing that former Deputy Superintendent Dr. Carmen Balgobin, who mysteriously fled Volusia County for a similar post with Broward County Schools, would be appointed “…as Superintendent of the School Board” (whatever that means) in the wake of Dr. Scott Fritz, who left the helm with a sack full of severance following a tumultuous resignation/termination last month.

From the outset, it was clear that School Board members had made up their minds well in advance and the decision to hire “Dr. B” was a foregone conclusion – full-speed ahead, damn the torpedo’s, and to hell with anyone aboard this foundering ship of fools who disagreed with their absolute authority to do as they wish. . .

Unfortunately, their determination to ramrod Dr. Balgobin’s appointment didn’t stop our elected officials from indulging in their interminable hyper-dramatic soliloquies – the lachrymose mewling and cooing that left one keen observer equating School Board member Jamie Haynes to actress Amber Heard – openly weeping, but no tears. . .

An absurd, round robin whine ensued as they explained, ad nauseum, why Dr. Balgobin was the best and brightest we could hope for (in a field of one?) – a weird, overacted melodrama that had many asking:

“Who are they trying to convince?  You? Me? Themselves?

Or Dr. Balgobin?   

My God.

In my view, the Volusia County School Board did not do their unanimous choice any favors. 

During her sermon to fellow board members, Ms. Haynes repeatedly alluded to some cryptic atrocity that drove Dr. Balgobin from Volusia County Schools – a yarn that conjured scenes of horrific barbarism (personal or professional?) – that suggested Balgobin did not take the job in Broward County (and the massive pay increase it provided) by choice.

In a strange dance, Ms. Haynes stopped just short of spilling the beans like a scene from some M. Night Shyamalan movie – warily glancing at board attorney Ted Doran like he was waiting to slap her with a ruler if she crossed some invisible line – giving less than the full story, which diminished her credibility and frustrated those of us waiting for the other shoe to drop.

This same muddy storyline played out during Chairman Ruben Colon’s monotonous monologue – yet, each time, the story stopped maddeningly shy of the complete transparency that may have garnered public support for Dr. Balgobin – robbing her of that “Ah-ha! That explains it!” moment that could have turned the widespread internal and external perception that sees Balgobin as an extension of Dr. Fritz, a mercenary, or both – and explain the reason(s) why she jumped ship in the first place.

Now, with the haste of recalcitrant children hellbent on getting their way, that opportunity is lost forever.   

In an informative article by education reporter Nikki Ross writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Volusia United Educators president Elizabeth Albert said what many were thinking:

“Albert said the decision Tuesday sent a “very strong message” to employees on whether or not they valued their input.

“There will forever be a connection between Balgobin and Fritz,” Albert said, noting that Balgobin’s departure from the district was abrupt and without explanation. “How can you bring her back to an environment that won’t be open to her? You would be disadvantaging her by appointing her now.”

How terribly unfortunate. . .

So, where do we go from here?

Apparently, the only thing left is for Chairman Colon and Mr. Doran to cobble together a contract (hopeful devoid of the confusion found in the Fritz agreement) which will offer Dr. Balgobin no more than a 3% increase in total compensation over what Dr. Fritz was commanding. 

We will see. . . 

As I understand it, a special meeting will be noticed for Tuesday, May 17, which will allow School Board members to rubberstamp what will no doubt be a very lucrative contract designed to lure Dr. Balgobin back into the turbulent waters of the Fun Coast.

In my view, Tuesday’s decision was an ill-thought gamble during an election year – the age-old roll of the dice by our elected dullards which speculates, “Will the Little People remember how we ignored them – shoved our choice down their throats over an open, transparent, and competitive process – or will their apathy and short memory prevail again this election season?”

Well, will it?

This hasty decision by the Volusia County School Board is crying out for political accountability: The obligation of those elected to high office to serve in the best interest of the public through strict adherence to established policies and transparent processes – or be held liable for their acts and omissions at the ballot box. 

Now, that responsibility lies with the voters of Volusia County.

15 thoughts on “A Foregone Conclusion

  1. Transparency???? WE DONT NEED NO TRANSPARENCY!!!!!! This reeks of cronyism. “Dr B” has already proven she isn’t qualified to be the head of our school district. She all but silenced our educators during the most trying of times and tried to rule with an iron fist. We need to remove this school board and elect a more transparent group of candidates, only then faith will be restored that our education system is truly looking out for our children.

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  2. It’s a travesty to be sure. They’re being paid to make sound, informed decisions that affect thousands of people in this county. Clearly, the qualifications for running to be a school board member needs to be revised. I’d be happy to throw in my ideas, having been at the mercy of Volusia County School boards for 21 years, however, hearing ideas from stakeholders hasn’t been a priority here.

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  3. The ruinous and hostile environment will continue to be maintained. I wonder what they are hiding that they don’t want any new blood in the district? Dr. B was extremely hostile to all stakeholders and will continue to alienate staff, students and families. This was not a choice. It appears as some type of underhanded deal.

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  4. Let’s just call this for what it is. The taxpaying voters of Volusia just got…violated ( not the word I had in mind) .. flatfooted. Dry. Again.
    Remember the definition of insanity.
    Committing the same course of action over and over, hoping for a different result.
    Let’s try it again at the polls, folks. What could be crazier?

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  5. From a teacher :

    “As someone new to education, I struggle to understand the policies and processes in Volusia County. I find it challenging to reconcile what is best for students with aforementioned policies and procedures. Those of you that have been at this awhile:

    Has it always been like this in VCS?
    Is it like this across the board in education?

    Based on my previous work experience, I think that VCS is a in a redundant cycle of triage with limited focus on systemic change.

    In the words of Maxwell, “If you’re proactive, you focus on preparing. If you’re reactive, you end up focusing on repairing.”

    I find that we are constantly repairing and rarely preparing. One needs to look no further than the Personal Action items of the School Board agendas from the last year. VCS is able to replace, at about the same rate, resigning staff. However, they cannot hire enough to ease the burden for all. Nothing erodes hope like looking at a salary schedule that lists the instructional pay rate as: Experience 0-20 years: $47,500. I cannot imagine any business publicly displaying the fact that 20 years gives you the same pay as the person hired yesterday.

    Balgobin’s inevitable appointment further confirms the point of reaction. Instead of preparing for the future, VCS has chosen to place another bandaid on a compound fracture. Sure…it’s going to slow the bleeding…but the tertiary effects of the wound will eventually cause death. I feel as though parents, educators, and administrators (all the primary stakeholders) have been dismissed in lieu of bubble gum and duct tape.

    When Rachel took over, I breathed easily for the first time in a year. I finally felt as though we had someone who understood us. I felt as though we were headed in the right direction. Now, I feel like we’ve been thrown right back into the hamster wheel of insanity. All other considerations aside, the lost faith from the community will make our jobs even more challenging.

    I spent three years in college preparing for this profession. Two years into the profession, I’m ready to leave. I will have spent more time studying than actually doing. I’m a great teacher, just not a good minion I guess. What I find most sorrowful is that the children are the ones that will ultimately pay the price for rash decisions and less than moral actions.”

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    1. Dana, you’re 100% correct as to the state of education in Volusia County. No, it wasn’t always like this. We had many years of stability with a previous superintendent, however, that was before most of the horrendous state mandates were dictated. Florida is not where I’d recommend anyone teach. If you want to discuss more privately, I’d be happy to have that conversation.

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      1. Marilyn tell me why I should not be pissed off that my friends daughter who teaches in Tampa did half the two years of covid zoom from mommies home in Ormond?I am not like teachers mode since I know what you people do.

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      2. I’ve no idea why you’re upset over that, however, each county has a separate contract with their teachers. Perhaps she got permission from her district to work from the Ormond location at the time. As long as she had access to an internet source, it really shouldn’t matter to anyone as long as she was doing her job as expected. We all worked remotely for quite awhile during that time.

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      3. Marilyn the President of the AFT Randi Weingarten made $560.000 in 2019 no updates available .The two unions AFT and NEA gave political PACS 40 million to play with while you teachers had that money out of your dues.20 years ago what was your salary.?A new teacher only makes $45.000.Unions play games.That money should go back to teachers salaries.My neighbor just gave notice for next year as she had enough.She said conditions are horrible as is the pay and the kids are out of control.School boards ruin her days.Have a good retirement.

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      4. Well, I don’t begrudge Randi her salary. She speaks for all of us at the highest level of government. She went to Ukraine after the war broke out, and so much more. AFT is a huge asset for teachers everywhere. The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that corporations were entitled to donate unlimited funds to political campaigns in a ruling for Citizens s United which was a conservative group. Super Pacs then evolved, and it has become a game of who can get the most donations wins. Grass roots fundraising has also become very big. I That being said, I would hope that the national organizations which represented my best interests as a teacher would be contributing a substantial amount to election campaigns that were certain to back us up. The Republican Party has no love for public education because it doesn’t turn a profit and live up to their standards of capitalism. So, we fight fire with fire. AFT and NEA have contributed a great deal to and for teachers. Try not to pass judgement on them because without them, we have very little power to make changes that help us, students, and families. This is much bigger than someone’s salary.

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      5. Marilyn Dems dont give a crap about you they want your 40 million in PAC money.How many no show students in NYC.Great schools in Philadelphia,Baltimore and Chicago.LMAO.Knew you had to be a Dem by all the garbage you write.Politicians use you.In Long Island teacher with your amount of years in the system and retire with an average of $125.000 a year and lived in my country club in Palm Beach and most drove a Mercede or BMW when we got the hell out of their 5 years ago.My neighbor now drives a 3 year old Ford and tutors on the side to make some money.Dems really helped her.

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      6. Well clearly you’re just not comprehending what I’ve written. I’m sure the Republicans care about me, right? People like you, who clearly voted for that carnival barker, Trump, care only about money and power. He orchestrated the horrific events of Jan. 6th with his lunatic fringe. People like yourself are part of the problem. You’re really good at blaming others because you’re so self absorbed. You have no idea what you’re talking about, however, just like your hero, you’ll keep ranting about what you don’t understand because you don’t get enough attention otherwise. I’m considering this conversation over, but you won’t be able to keep yourself from responding back because of your ignorance and ego, once again just like the scumbag Trump

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  6. I have to go against the grain and say it seems the School Board members were actually working together to bring stability (even Cuthbert acted a little smart!) and avoid the mess of a year of searching and hiring and another year of the new person trying to find their footing and spend a crap load of money doing it when they have someone they are already familiar with. That would be two more school years lost after the mess that Fritz left with all his bully tactics and changing truths. Still hard to believe Cuthbert turned a blind eye to the treatment Fritz gave his staff and the trashing of his board. Hard to believe she was gutless when it came to taking care of HER people!!! New Smyrna can do better.
    Now is this hire the best approach? Time will tell, but I can certainly understand why they went this route after the particular chaos Frtizie brought!

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  7. Did the school board check with the bully leadership of the daytona chamber or Mori’s wife to make sure this hire was okay first? After all, this who are schools are built to serve, right?

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  8. Breaking news FBI has tagged parents who go against school boards at meetings .Garland denied it last year but whistle blowers came out and parents are ratted out and investigated per todays Yahoo.

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