On East Williston School District (EWSD) Superintendent Dr. Elaine Kanas

 February 1, 2013

This one’s about the present EWSD Superintendent, Dr. Elaine Kanas.  I have both good news and bad news for the community.  The good news is that we are rid of former superintendent, Dr. Lorna Lewis.  The bad news is that her replacement doesn’t appear to have what it takes to do the job of instituting reform.

Everyone in the District remembers Lewis.  Three years ago, a former board member at Lewis’s earlier home base (Three Island), chided our School Board for not doing its due diligence prior to hiring Lewis.  This unfortunate hiring decision only accelerated our District’s decline, initiated earlier by former Board President, Bergtraum.  I repeatedly warned the community that Lewis was not only incompetent and untrustworthy but also looking to leave.  But many parents, routinely and successfully duped by the Kamberg board along with teachers and their union, came to believe she walked on water.  And time proved me correct, a fact that my deterrents have difficulty accepting (I also believe that Lewis got the job because she was African-American and a woman).

Well, history repeated itself.  Our lazy, incompetent School Board didn’t do its due diligence on Dr. Kanas either.  However, we did!

On the positive side, Dr. Kanas impressed me as a dedicated, concerned educator.  Unfortunately, she also initially appeared to me as someone who could be easily manipulated – a perfect candidate for both Kamberg and the teachers.

I have had two meetings with Dr. Kanas.  I first met Dr. Kanas a few weeks after she arrived last August.  At that time, I presented her with a list of particulars detailing the shortcomings of our district and a call for reform.   A copy of that note follows.

Dear Dr. Kanas,

I believe that the following current problems are adversely affecting the East Williston School District (EWSD).

  1. The per capita student cost is $30,000+/yr.
  2. The student/teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0
  3. The EWSD employs 21 secretaries.
  4. There is rampant teacher absenteeism.
  5. The failure of some students to attend the college/university of their choice.
  6. The EWSD national ranking is in free-fall.
  7. The school tax burden continues to increase despite reduced enrollment.
  8. The lack of preparedness of some of the students for their post high school education.
  9. The failure of the previous administration to, in accordance with the law, act on FOIL       requests.

As a taxpayer and member of the EWSD community, I am requesting your assessment of the above nine problems, plus what steps you intend to take to either remove or reduce

these problems.  If a response is not received by October 1, 2012, I shall assume that you have concluded that there is no reason for concern. If you do respond, I would then appreciate a follow-up notification on the success/failure of your actions on or before December 31, 2012.

I await your response.

Sincerely,

Lou Theodore

Instead of expressing dismay at my description of the current state of the District, Dr. Kanas indicated that there wasn’t enough proof to validate my statements and claims, and indicated that a committee would look into it in the near future.  I explained to the Superintendent that you didn’t need a Ph.D. to divide one number by another in order to verify my claims.  I also explained that committees don’t get things done and that any meaningful recommendations of reform to whatever committee would be ignored by both the corrupt Board and equally corrupt teachers and their union.  I became convinced that nothing meaningful would occur with Dr. Kanas as Superintendent…and my concerns have been confirmed at this point in time.

Two of Dr. Kanas’ favorite terms during our discussions were strategic and comprehensive, two popular Madison Avenue clichés.  Any time I hear someone using either or both of these words, that individual gets tuned out since I know from past experience that the individual is either clueless or trying to con me, or both.  Dr. Kanas appears to be in this category.

More than six months have elapsed since I tried to get to the bottom of class sizes and teacher absenteeism.  Thanks to Assistant Superintendent for Business Fitzpatrick, I still don’t have the necessary background information and data to perform a meaningful analysis of both these problems.   Although responsible for fulfilling FOIL requests, she has successfully stalled the process.  The bottom line is that my repeated calls for Fitzpatrick to go (and not be replaced) have been ignored.  Thank you Dr. Kanas.

Can Dr. Kanas turn things around in the EWSD?  I doubt it, given the past conduct of Kamberg, the present Board, earlier Boards, plus the teachers and their union.  The District needs a strong Superintendent who will stand up to the self-serving exploiters in our community.  Unfortunately, Dr. Kanas has not even remotely demonstrated either the willingness and/or capability to do so; six months have elapsed and she still hasn’t figured out what’s wrong with our District.

I return next month and will detail how the PTO leadership and membership are contributing to the demise of our school system and adversely affecting both the schoolchildren and taxpayers.

NEXT POSTING:      The Parent Teachers Organization (PTO), March 1, 2013

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