Tuesday, February 15, 2011

EASD Business Manager Marie Guidry to Retire Before Contract Ends

...leaving a big mess behind...


Posted by: Noël Jones


Chris Baxter of The Morning Call reports that Easton Area School District Business Manager, Marie Guidry, has chose to retire early due to health problems, after publicly embarrassing the district in a bizarre math error that first promised to lower property taxes in Easton by 5.8% and then a week later proved to amount to a 1.6% tax hike. Guidry has had health issues for a while, and says that the error has nothing to do with her decision to leave, but regardless, she will be leaving without finishing her four-year contract as interim Business Manager, which due to expire June 30, 2013.  Guidry's contract was negotiated after her stint with the East Stroudsburg School District, at the end of which that district ended up commissioning an internal review that delivered a scathing report for her department. Baxter's article quotes the report as saying--
"The business office is devoid of strong management and operational and fiscal controls...There is a low level of personal responsibility and accountability to publish correct data even when given to the school board at public meetings...The budget process has no credibility and the numbers along with the transfers have no meaning."
Now this should lead us each to ask the next logical question--whose bright idea was it to pay Guidry $100K+ for four years (she will get $123,600 for this year) to mess up our district as badly as she did East Stroudsburg's, and to employ the same taxing strategies here as she did there? Remember when the EASD proposed an 11.85% tax hike on residents last year? The only other district in our region that had proposed a hike of over 10% was--you guessed it--East Stroudsburg, when Guidry was manager.
Is it safe to assume that since the five-year teachers' contract with its lucrative mandatory annual raises was negotiated in 2007 by Joe Kish, that he might have had something to do with this contract as well, since Guidry retired from East Stroudsburg in 2007 and was hired here in 2008? The only upside that I can see in all this is that Joe Kish also decided to retire this year.
Maybe with these two gone, the EASD can begin to get its financial bearings again. One thing to keep in mind though--if the teachers' contract is a five-year contract penned in 2007, then that means it will be up in 2012, which means that negotiations could theoretically begin as early as this year. Residents need to keep an eye on this...
The next school board meeting is TONIGHT at 6pm at the Easton Area Education Center at 1801 Bushkill Drive.

31 comments:

David Caines said...

I'm happy to hear this, though I would have been happier to hear that it was done as a punishment for such an abysmal failure as it would have been in any other business. Seriously, this is enron style math, and it should be embarrassing to the school system that it cannot meet even the base standards that it should be requiring of our children in class.
Here's hoping some thought goes into the replacement and I would strongly suggest that she be replaced from someone outside of Easton, someone with no ties to our failed system. And from a school system with proven successes.
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

This meeting is going to be a big one--in addition to this issue, other things bound to be discussed will be the EASD's refusal to turn over public emails to The Morning Call, more D'Huy expenditures, and whether or not any progress has been made on investigating Sodexo for potential fraud...

Never a dull moment!

FYI: I believe today is the first date that candidates can begin to circulate petitions to run for the 5 out of 9 seats up for re-election this year on the school board--for anyone who has ever considered running before--now is the time to GO for it!

BullVon said...

I believe that the million dollar question is who Mr. Kish selects to replace him. It seems to me that Mr. Kish likes to have "controlable" bodies in positions of influence, without interest in the quality or track record of the previous job.

Didn't the School Board approve a ruling within the last year or so giving Mr. Kish some added financial gifts as he was preparing to retire.

The School Board will probably end up naming something after him!

tunsie said...

im allowed to say i love noel

Anonymous said...

this school board meeting will also get an address by the cheerleaders and parents. This is a group targetted by President Kerry Meyers. He says that cheerleaders should just be little girls standing on the sidelines cheering for the boys. And this guy wants to run for Easton City Council. WOW!!!

This, the Guidry hire, Kish extension is just symptoms of the fact that the Easton Area School District is void of leadership. We have not one true leader in this district. It's a real shame. The kids suffer and the taxpayers suffer.

BOO BOO said...

NOEL SAID:

"One thing to keep in mind though--if the teachers' contract is a five-year contract penned in 2007, then that means it will be up in 2012, which means that negotiations could theoretically begin as early as this year. "

Once again, you speak with forked tongue. The first year of the teacher's contact was 2008-09 so, under PA Act 88, negotiations would begin in January of 2013, NOT NOW!

Your general lack of factual credibility is the problem with reading this blog. You mislead, either intentionally or not, and create problems or issues that do not exist.

Molly said...

You go, Boo Boo! This blog is rife with bullshit!!!

Tootsie said...

FYI:

Kish doesn't get to appoint his replacement and, word is, McGinley isn't replacing him just reassigning his duties to her resident boobs!

Anonymous said...

Noel:

Where were you and your disciples this evening? Big talk, no action!!!

noel jones said...

Boo-Boo, Molly--one thing we seem to agree on is that if you're going to criticize publicly, it's important to do your research first. The quote below is from Chris Baxter's article in the The Morning Call from May 27, 2009:

"Both new to their jobs in the past two years, Deely and Superintendent Susan McGinley worked closely until April, when McGinley went public with a plan to lay off 45 to 60 teachers, cut courses and increase class sizes unless Deely agreed to reopen then union's five-year contract, signed in 2007."

Anon 8:57--I wasn't feeling well last night and was sorry to miss it--please feel free to give us a full report, as I have no 'disciples' as you call them, nor minions or little elves for that matter. I am a citizen--like anyone else who reads this blog, and we all think and act independently. This often disturbs cronies of the old school politicians here, as they can't seem to get their brains around the idea that there isn't a secret 'organization' of sort, nor do I have insiders feeding me information--there are several of us out here that are quite capable of doing our own research (like finding the article above before mouthing off).

David Caines said...

Once again, you speak with forked tongue. The first year of the teacher's contact was 2008-09 so, under PA Act 88, negotiations would begin in January of 2013, NOT NOW!-

Great, we've got two years to way lay the next mess.
I'm sure most are aware that Noel and I scrap over a lot of things, but on this we agree.
Lets get ahead of this thing.
Sadly, we disagree about making a real effort to just restart the entire mess by letting everyone go. Assuming the research is correct and I am assuming, I have way too many things to follow and have a hard time putting the effort into this that I'd like to. Still it seems correct.
Lets oppose any contract that does not include teacher evaluations, tenure negotiations, and some means by which we may identify and deal with both the good and the bad. Lets plan for a negotiations failure, lets force it. Lets plan for a strike, lets force it. Lets make 2013 a put up or shut up sort of year. And if a strike happens lets extend it until the state or the fed have no choice but to address it. I don't think that our teachers have the moral authority to strike, but if they do lets suck that up and use it as a means to redress the deep issues within or school system.
Lets be prepared for the confrontation, lets force it if needs be.
We have a world of means, and if you folks are right two years to set them in place. This is a fight, a brawl , for our money, our children, our future and as the day is marked, lets be prepared for it.
Peace,
David
We are sadly all overwhelmed by the ten thousand pin pricks of everyday life, so lets take a bit of the pressure off. lets put this on lay away, paying it off a bit at a time. Paying and preparing for the day that it comes home.

David Caines said...

Just for fun, and a bit off topic...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7dYOi1fsH4
it may seem a bit odd, but I support our president, the one that we...hint there... elected.
If you wish to comment on his youtube link this is the link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7dYOi1fsH4

This is a democratic republic, it is also the modern world. lets make our voices heard...why not?
Blessings,
David

Piaggio said...

Noel, to clarify the dates of the current teachers' contract: the current contract was an "early bird" contract signed in Dec.'07. (Remember the controversy about Joe Kish rushing it through and the SB admitting that they had not completely read it. They had until Aug. 31, 2008 to sign a new one.) However, it went into effect Sept. of 2008. Thus, this current school year would be the 3rd year of the 5 year contract. The current contract is up Aug. 31, 2013. Hope this clears things up so no one gets personal and gets their undies all bunched up.

David Caines said...

I am so feeling a wedgie..still, thanks.
I think the question is ...how to avoid five more years of crap. I think that the answer lies in forcing their hand.
A sad truth is that we're stuck with a few more years of a sucky school system that kills our home sale values....though in a city of renters who cares?
well, I do as should the other home owners of easton. It would be one thing if they were just picking our pockets through taxes, it is another that they devalue our homes by 40% or so.
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

Piaggio--thanks very much for the info!

Anonymous said...

Noel, you're welcome. In full disclosure as to what I am saying next, I am a retired EASD teacher, having graduated from EAHS and then return four years later to teach for over 31 years. I taught for several years under Joe Kish at the then Shawnee Intermediate School and w /o doubt he was the best Asst. Principal I had ever worked under. He was a hard ass both on teachers and students. If he called for a 7:15 staff meeting, you were expected to be there at 7:15, not 7:16 with some lame excuse or you got an old fashioned U. S. Marine chewing out. Did I agree with everything he did and was he perfect - no - but he was responsible for weeding out 2 or 3 teachers from the school district that should have been dismissed years before he got to them. He was demanding of his teachers and you were expected to do whatever and be wherever you were suppose to be during your teaching day.

Piaggio said...

sorry - anonymous 6:14 PM = Piaggio.

tunsie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Caines said...

I don't know Joe Kish, He may be the nicest guy short of god, but at the end of the day this school system isn't getting the job done. Period. If it were, I could care less if he were Adolph Hitler and malcolm x rolled into one.
I'm sorry that the guy is catching hell, but again this school system does not work and someone needs to be blamed for that. Probably a lot of someones. As has been said before, if this were a real business, it would be selling at a loss and none of the employees would be kept. If somehow we are not supposed to hold our schools to the real world standard, how can we expect them to teach our children to that standard?
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

Piaggio--thanks for the insight from a teacher's point of view. One thing to keep in mind is that tax payers are not upset at Kish for anything to do with his handling of teachers--except to have negotiated such lucrative mandatory raises (averaging 10% per teacher annually, because of the stepped system of union raises), that we have had to bear up under during an economic recession. The other big objection that I hear most often (and share myself) is sweetheart deals with D'Huy Engineering--the frequent smaller ones of which seem to have regularly been pushed through for invoice approval by the board without the duly elected school board ever voting on whether or not to incur the expenditure in the first place, including regular attendance at school board meetings by D'Huy reps, which we also pay for with our taxes. All of those little deals add up quickly over time, and the bigger ones (like the swimming pool renovations) are presented to the board as if they are absolute necessities, and the costs are exorbitant at a time when the district needs to be saving money and not raising taxes on residents who have not been getting 10% raises every year.

Now to some teachers I know some of that may sound anti-teacher, but it couldn't be farther from the truth. Most residents I know are very upset that many older, more stagnant teachers were safe within the union last year from getting laid off and therefore had no incentive to give up their raises in compromise, while 72 newer, more energetic, less bitter teachers were laid off because that's the way the union protects seniority.

Most residents that I know were very upset that in the stand-off between the administrators and the teachers union--neither of which would give up their raises in solidarity with struggling taxpayers--72 teachers lost their jobs, when those jobs could have been saved by that compromise. So instead of compromising on raises, both sides chose to send 72 employed teachers onto the unemployment rolls.

Residents are tired of greed and croneyism winning out over what's best for our youth and the community at large, and are particularly tired of greed and croneyism wasting our money to keep the insider gravy-train going and raising our taxes every year to do it.

Anonymous said...

David Caines said:

"this school system does not work and someone needs to be blamed for that. Probably a lot of someones. As has been said before, if this were a real business, it would be selling at a loss and none of the employees would be kept. If somehow we are not supposed to hold our schools to the real world standard, how can we expect them to teach our children to that standard?"

I am curious. In what way does the Easton Area School System not work?

Anonymous said...

Noel:

Your quote that "most residents that I know were very upset that in the stand-off between the administrators and the teachers union--neither of which would give up their raises in solidarity with struggling taxpayers--72 teachers lost their jobs, when those jobs could have been saved by that compromise. So instead of compromising on raises, both sides chose to send 72 employed teachers onto the unemployment rolls" rings hollow.

The school board inked an agreement with the teachers union that they could not honor without significant budget cuts. As a result, they directed the few central administrators (Kish excluded) that still exist in Easton and had nothing to do with the budget shortfall mess to reorganize the district to insure "MINIMUM" staffing.

Of course people were pissed; however, I specifically remember you lecturing the board in the Fall of 2009 to hold the line on taxes at "0%," AND calling for deep cuts to balance the budget. When it came time to do exactly that, you flip-flopped and criticized the administration for doing exactly what they were directed to do by the board of education.

So, Noel, why don't you go on record now and tell us all what the EASD board and administration should do this year? I know I am all ears to hear your ideas!

noel jones said...

the same thing they should have done last year--come to the table in good faith with the union offering to give up their raises if the union would do the same. then they should have done the other thing that many of us suggested--called each dept. head forward to present a budget with 10% cuts across the board. if they had done all that, there would have been no teachers (or tech people, or crisis counselors, or literacy coaches) fired and no taxes raised.

these suggestions only "ring hollow" to insiders who want to maintain the status quo and criticize citizens who call the district out on bad decisions.

David Caines said...

High levels of teen pregnancy, a high drop out rate, failure to meet even basic state and federal standards for standardized testing, which is easy enough to see in everyday life. The handful of local students I've had the unfortunate pleasure to meet can barely hold a conversation, I have yet to meet an EASD graduate that I could hire as so much as a day laborer. Both statistically and experientialy, this school system is an utter wash.
We need to triage this system not reward it.
Hopeful that answer is succinct. An aside of course is their utter public disdain for the laws that govern them, which if the system worked would still be disgusting, but as it does not, it jumps to a new level.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

Easton Area Highschool-

PSSA Results

Scale: % at or above proficient

Grade 11
Reading
59% (2010)
53% (2009)
52% (2008)
56% (2007)
The state average for Reading was 67% in 2010.

Science
28% (2010)
28% (2009)
The state average for Science was 40% in 2010.

Writing
78% (2010)
81% (2009)
75% (2008)
84% (2007)
The state average for Writing was 81% in 2010.

Math
59% (2010)
50% (2009)
47% (2008)
48% (2007)
The state average for Math was 60% in 2010.

Granted the state averages are also pathetic, but at the end of the day we rate four stars out of ten at the national level.

TO be fair, even national standards are falling,
This is the nicest ranking I can find, in many we're 30th or lower.
OECD/PISA Study:
Reading Literacy

1. Finland
2. Canada
3. New Zealand
4. Australia
5. Ireland
6. Korea
7 United Kingdom
8. Japan
9. Sweden
10. Austria
11. Belgium
12. Iceland
13. Norway
14. France
15. United States

Still as an Easton homeowner that four stars out of ten costs me money, on top of taxes.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

To be fair, the school system has shown some improvement over the last few years. Still not great, but perhaps there is something to be saved. The problem of course is figuring out a fair means to do so, and the EASD has shown no public interest in doing so.
Until we get that, we may be stuck with more drastic measures.
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

Thanks for the stats, David.

David Caines said...

It never hurts to have some numbers on the board. Still, in America- 31 out of every 100 students can't read at basic proficiency levels. 3 out of 10, arguably 1/3.
If I worked at wawa and punched 1/3 of the buttons wrong, they'd have to fire me. If I worked at McDonalds and burned 1/3 of the fries...I'd be fired.
Out of 4 categories, we get 3 "F" s and 1 "C+". And that is at minimum standards. Bare minimum.
We'd probably drop out with those grades, we sort of have. And yet our failures get raises and rewards? And we get higher taxes and lowered home values. This is 2-2= 1o, that math might work for some of us, but in the end it fails.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

There is a movement going across the nation to kill such unions, to more or less destroy them, that movement has some points. This union proves them right. I know a lot of union folks who are killing themselves just to keep their jobs,Police officers, firefighters, park rangers, road crews, county clerks across the nation are taking pay freezes and cut hours to make this nation work , and yet our teachers are getting raises?
I will never agree with disbanding unions, but living here, I can see the point.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

I apologize for a misprint- 41 out of every 100 Easton students cannot read at basic proficiency level. Sorry, I remembered the number wrong.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

I support our police union, our firefighters, even our brutally overwhelmed codes department. I support our trash guys, even our recycling guys despite some personal issues, our parking enforcement and public works, I love the Easton Ambassadors...with few reservations I have little issue with any Easton union except our school union.
On all levels but one, we pass and are growing. I need a plan to become self policing from our teachers, barring that, fire the lot.
Peace,
David