OMG moment coming up in a few paragraphs. First…

There was a minor breakthrough at last night’s school board club meeting. During his presentation of agenda item 12.a., “Report on the N-MUSD College Readiness Block Grant,” Kirk Bauermeister actually asked, for discussion purposes, “How will we measure success?” Then he had a slide with answers.

The thud in the room was me falling off my chair.

Far too often, programs are presented to the school board club without the answers to critical questions such as:

  • Where has this been done before?
  • What was the outcome?
  • How will success be measured?

These are standard questions in the private sector and for decades, they have helped enterprises of all types grow and succeed.

Bauermeister answered the last question but not one of the school board club members thought to ask him about precedents; about whether this model has been used elsewhere and whether it was successful. They did not ask because they are not wired that way.

On a larger scale, they are not wired to care about such things. Time and again, they have shown a disregard for the financial details that would answer questions about costs relative to benefits and what non-monetary resources such as staff time are required for implementation.

But it’s not surprising. The financial irresponsibility of the school board club is legendary here.

Working hard for you 

Erica and Jeff Roberts are district parents who are leading the charge to replace Swun Math with another program. As you may recall, Swun Math has been criticized by teachers and parents and the wonder is why it is still being used in the district after the negative reviews became public.

Recently, the Roberts’ have expanded the scope of their involvement because, it seems to me, that they understand the connectivity of the budget. Money that is being wasted over there, so to speak, cannot be spent over here where it is needed.

For many months, they have put in an incredible amount of hours doing work that some of the N-MUSD staff should have done in order to right several wrongs. They have attended meetings and are trying to hold district officials accountable for their promises to investigate Swun Math alternatives.

Erica Roberts spoke at last night’s meeting, again, and brought up several issues. Did anyone on the dais ask her anything – any probing question to find out more about what it is claiming or what help she may need to get the information she seeks? No.

What Erica and Jeff Roberts are doing is difficult – just ask John Caldecott – and they are to be commended for their efforts.

The OMG moment

One of the moments in which I laughed occurred with the discussion of item no. 16.a.: “Authorization to Re-Design the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Logo and Form a Logo Re-Design Advisory Committee.”

This was supposed to be a fun moment for everyone and some folks were almost giddy… We’re getting a new logo – Yay!

The rationale presented reads, “As Newport-Mesa Unified School District celebrates its 50th Anniversary in the 2016/17 school year, it is an opportune time to consider re-branding the District logo.”

OK, first, I have been a successful marketer and advertiser for over thirty years and I have never heard of re-branding a logo. You can redesign a logo, but you can’t “re-brand it,” unless there is some newer concept of which I am not aware.

And just to be clear: A logo is not a brand. A logo only represents a brand. A brand is what you think of when you see the Nike swoosh or the apple with a bite – it’s how you feel about a certain product or business. If the district is going to work on anything, I suggest they start working on their own brand, which is suffering lately from a lack of a rudder.

But that’s not the worst part. Here’s the worst part – the description of the logo redesign process. Hold onto your hat…

“The Logo Re-design Committee will include up to four representatives from each of the Superintendent Advisory Councils (Student Advisory Council, Parent Advisory Council, Certificated Advisory Council and Classified Advisory Council), up to four members from the District’s Quarterly Debrief team, which consists of supervisors, directors and principals from across the District, and two Board Members, selected by the Board President. 

“Staff will bring the graphic design firm contract to a future Board meeting for approval. At that time staff anticipates providing an outline and timeline of the design process.”

So here’s what, boiled down for you:  (my notes in BOLD):

“…four representatives from each of the Superintendent Advisory Councils (Student Advisory Council, Parent Advisory Council, Certificated Advisory Council and Classified Advisory Council)” Possibly 16 people

Plus…

“…up to four members from the District’s Quarterly Debrief team, which consists of supervisors, directors and principals from across the District” Possibly 4 people

Plus…

“…two Board Members, selected by the Board President.” Two people

That’s a potential of 22 people on the committee, all just to design a new logo. So while teachers struggle with Swun Math, the district is devoting a ton of people and precious resources to a new logo.

I have co-created dozens of logos and type treatments in my career and have never had more than three people involved at any time. I can have a dozen highly creative logo options for the district to review in one week at a cost of about $500. But you’re not going to get skilled professionals who charge reasonable rates, you are going to get a “graphic design firm” and that will cost you thousands. But hey! it’s only (your) taxpayer dollars.

Here’s a suggestion: Instead of putting lipstick on the pig with this new logo farce, how about first fixing the elementary math program? How about working with Erica and Jeff Roberts to put a better program in place now instead of giving them the usual stall, stifle, and stymie?

So we’ve got rats in schools, lawsuits galore, a contested math program, Estancia High solar panels unresolved, money paid to someone not to retire even after he announced his retirement, a pending Gold Ribbon report regarding teacher claims of untruths and inaccuracies, the CdM High stadium, and more, yet, somehow, a new logo is in the middle of the district radar. Unbelievable.

My .02? No new math program, no new logo. But, that’s just me.

P.S. That new logo? I know of one critical marketing element that will be missing. Guaranteed.

P.P.S. If the superintendent has all those advisory councils (4), how come things are in such bad shape?

Batter up!

The other light moment – if you can consider the logo stuff a hilarity – came at item no. 14.b.2.: “Approve Agreement with the Orange County Department of Education to Provide Professional Development in Support of the Elementary ELA/ELD Pilot.”

For this, School board club President Karen Yelsey turned it over to Supt. Frederick Navarro, who turned it over to Russell Lee-Sung, who turned it over to John Drake, who finally got around to addressing the item.

It was hilarious. But the bureaucrats involved don’t see the baton tossing as hilarious. To them, it’s the process. And as long as the process is followed, all is well.

Then there were the bored member reports.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

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