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LETTER: Superintendent of schools search was a costly 'scheme'

To The Telegram, Mr. David Minor recently heaped piles of praise on the school board (We The People, April 7) for its great wisdom in extending Superintendent Jay Mitchell's contract, on Mr. Mitchell for gracing us with his presence for two more ...

To The Telegram,

Mr. David Minor recently heaped piles of praise on the school board (We The People, April 7) for its great wisdom in extending Superintendent Jay Mitchell's contract, on Mr. Mitchell for gracing us with his presence for two more years, on the committee that agreed to agree, and anyone else party to this scheme. As taxpayers, you should also know that several thousand dollars where spent to arrive at this decision, yet it follows previous precedence for this school system. Those who follow these things predicted exactly this result before the consulting firm was hired.

There is much in Mr. Minor's letter that I disagree with, especially the idea that the community owes Mr. Mitchell anything. This is Liberal Logic. In the real world, compensation is based on results, not on praise based on smoke and mirrors. Mr. Mitchell has been paid exceedingly well, has received benefits that will not stop with his death but will be passed on to his heirs, and has received special privileges in violation of long standing rules of the district. I do not owe Mr. Mitchell one dime! Until this school district at least scores with the average state districts, praises are a bit premature.

If Mr. Minor's letter, based on smoke and mirrors, sets the tone, the following comparison is just about as accurate. A Japanese school district and the Superior School district decided to have a canoe race on the Nemadji river. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.

A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the American team had eight people steering and one person rowing. Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

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They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to four steering supervisors, three area steering superintendents and one district director of steering managers. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the one person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the "Rowing Team Quality First Program," with meetings, dinners on the Vista Queen for the team and spouses and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and retirement bonuses. A designer was commission to design the wall plaques. They also sent a bus load of board members, students and parents on an overnight trip to Kimberly, Wi. to watch a rowing demonstration.

The next year, the Japanese won by two miles. The superintendent said, "Well, we have a transient population." Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses, and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India.

The district accountant said they had saved the taxpayers $18 million over the two years. You decide whose description of our school district is smoke and mirrors.

-- Jerry Van Horn,

South Range

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