I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

An Interesting Email Volley

Just got an email from an experienced veteran teacher. While she makes some good points, she manages to slam several (including me) in the process. Of course I had to respond. Her email is on the bottom of my response on the top. Scroll down to read her email first, to get a sense of the mood and tone conversation....

Jeff Bergosh
Tuesday - May 6, 2008 5:22 PM
Re: My questions and concerns with regards to the current budget situation and the climate of the board.
Debby,Where to start in response to such a lengthy, deep email. I'll try-- But any response to you, by me, must start this way. You stated:"But sadly, then along came “Godzilla” and the ridicule began again. Comments like “No wonder you have problems- look at what you call leadership” were common. The hoopla died down even though the person causing it was never dealt with and is still allowed to maintain his position on the board."I take exception to what you have written. First of all, everything I said using a pseudonym on the PNJ was factually correct. The lion's share of the comments I made were in direct defense of Escambia schools when they were constantly compared to the demographically dissimilar districts in Santa Rosa County and in Okaloosa County. I said the common sense things that needed to be said, and I defended the quality of education in Escambia County. I never committed any crime, I never did anything illegal, and I never did anything unethical. What, would you have me thrown off the board for blogging? Good luck with that Debby. I'll admit that I should have just used my own name when blogging. I've learned my lesson on that and have my own Blog now--- perhaps my posts on the PNJ were abrasive, and perhaps the comments were not politically correct, but what was said was all factually correct. I have not been challenged as to the accuracy of what I stated. Debby, please do not be a sheep. Do not march like a lemming to the drumbeat that the local liberal press constantly plays and do not swallow everything they want to feed you. Get the facts for yourself and do your own research. As far as the motivations for the PNJ in outing an anonymous poster(me), and divulging information provided to their reporter "off the record" Shame on them for doing it. They did it because they do not like people who have conservative opinions, period. And I had corrected the PNJ's editor's misconceptions about this district on their website, and they were not happy about it. Opinions vary, but among their peers and more than 8 out of 10 posters on the PNJ, the editor was roundly criticized for outing me. The PNJ had never done this to anyone else before me, nor have they done this to anyone after me. I suppose they learned their lesson. For your further edification, please see the articles CRITICAL of PNJ for their despicable conduct available at the following addresses:,135f85e1

But let's stick to current events.Debby, let’s get down to important issues; here is what is important now, not your petty put downs and recitations of "old non-news" garbage about "Godzilla".First of all------Surprise---I agree with you on many of your suggested cuts. No doubt you have seen my viewpoint, but if you haven't you should check it out--it is online at the PNJ website, it is the first viewpoint listed on their site. It also appeared in last Sunday's paper. I agree that the district PR person is non essential. I agree that further cuts should come from the top and not the bottom. I also believe we need to immediately close underutilized facilities like carver/century. I believe that we should consolidate Hallmark with Yniestra. We also need to cut district travel (in and out of county) down to as close to zero as is possible, and we as a board should implement a policy requiring Board Approval of all out of county travel. We should stop paying for district personnel cell phones. Further, I think we need to look seriously at freezing step increases, staggering start times--like Santa Rosa, compounding the school busses, and possibly even going as drastic as reverting to the 2006-2007 salary schedule for all employees (that means teachers too, Debby)! We need to seriously consider outsourcing all support functions where it makes sense and generates savings. We need to make the cuts necessary to put students first, the taxpayers second, and employees (like you and I) third. All cuts should be viewed with this prioritization in mind, and all cuts should strive to hold student's harmless. The easy thing for many to do in a budget shortfall is to blame the legislature for the problems. I know they made a promise to hold education harmless. They could not keep this promise, due to the economy in our state going sour. Most rational people with brains understand that the cuts had to come from somewhere--so I don't agree with you Debby in foisting the blame on our State Legislators. The "Blame Game" does nothing to move the ball up the field.Yes, we need to make drastic cuts now, because next year and the year after look no better. Yes, the board, superintendent, and union must work together. I, for one, am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to it. The million dollar question for you Debby, is, Are You?I appreciate your budget cutting ideas, and I would most certainly encourage you to come in person to one or more of the numerous public budget meetings we will be having in the next few months. We need valuable input from seasoned, experienced teachers now more than ever. Regards,Jeff BergoshEscambia County School Board, District 1850-469-6147

>>> Debby Dorough 05/06/08 4:00 PM >>>To: Superintendent Paul and School Board MembersFrom: Debby Dorough, 28 year veteran teacher, 14 years in Escambia CountyThough some of the circumstances prompting this letter were propagated by certain individuals on the board, I address my remarks to all members of the board because it will take all members working together to resolve these issues.I’ve seen many changes in Escambia County since I first came here in 1994. I have had the opportunity to work with some really wonderful people; the misfortune to work with some really negative people, and seen most programs and policies come full circle.During the Hal Mason/Vanette Webb “era” I hated to tell my friends and family where I worked. Friends and family from out of state would write and call to rib me about the nonsense going on at the district level-it was making national news!A new board and new leadership brought about welcome change. But sadly, then along came “Godzilla” and the ridicule began again. Comments like “No wonder you have problems- look at what you call leadership” were common. The hoopla died down even though the person causing it was never dealt with and is still allowed to maintain his position on the board. Again, Escambia County became the laughing stock.It seems we just go from one thing to another, never fully resolving anything. To add insult to injury, our top instructional leader is arrested and charged in a DUI case and then gives one conflicting statement after another to anyone who will listen. Again we were in the spotlight and not in a good manner!All of that nearly behind us and then comes the budget “crisis”. The legislature ignores their promises to hold education harmless. Their total lack of respect for our profession now seems to have trickled down to our current situation. Cries of “no money” and “cut the fluff” from our leaders, and yet---look at the number and salaries of those in district positions! We don’t need two media specialists to maintain thousands of books and resources and help students with research and day-to-day projects, but we do need assistants to the assistants who make $80,000 a year. Somehow the logic in that escapes me.I support wholeheartedly the recommendations sent to you from a group of administrators at the school level. The positions they mention cutting are exactly the positions that most teachers will also support cutting- rather than the ESP positions who are already working for below poverty level wages!This district could recoup the budget shortfall in many ways which would not involve losing teaching or ESP positions. There are many, many things I could list, but I want to point out those that stand out the most to me and then elaborate on a couple of items that I am at an absolute loss to understand. First, here’s my list of suggestions for budget cuts and ways to save money:1. Reduce Directors of Elementary and Secondary Education to one position each.2. Eliminate the CIM Director job*3. Eliminate the Primary Specialist job4. Reduce the number of Teachers on Special Assignment5. Take a look at EVERY department and cut back to only NECESSARY positions and then pay those people reasonable salaries, not pie-in-the-sky salaries.6. Eliminate the PR position-whatever it is called7. Scale down the Safety and Security department dramatically- do we really need our own “S.W.A.T.” vehicle??8. Forget about outsourcing and treat the people you have like you should and the quality of workmanship will improve far above anything an outsource employee could provide. My school is a perfect example. Come anytime. Our floors sparkle. Our classrooms are neat and clean. All from the same staff who’s been here for years. The difference isn’t outsourcing. The difference is in the way the staff is being treated.9. Stop throwing materials and programs at teachers without first properly researching the need, quality or validity of those materials and programs. And provide ADEQUATE training on the programs- not a 2 hour “voluntary” training session. **10. Stop paying for programs and positions that were originally funded with grant monies and continued with the district “picking up the tab”.11. Look at your consolidation options, recommended changes, and follow through.12. Do away with the Merit Pay/Map plan.13. Actually ELIMINATE positions, don’t just rename them.14. Administrative personnel should have to pay for their own professional dues.15. Make sure something works BEFORE we spend millions on it. (TEMS)16. COMMUNICATE- Departments OFTEN ask for redundant information, buy unnecessary programs and training because they don’t communicate.17. Get your facts straight. Steps on the pay scale are NOT automatically rolled out to employees every year and never have been (despite your recent comments to the contrary).18. Listen to what Mr. Studer is trying to teach you. He’s done wonders for other organizations and he can help us, too; but we have to realize we need the changes he proposes and actually WANT to improve.*CIM- This is my 3rd year as a member of my school’s CIM team. Since the original training, I have been asking and asking and asking (as have many others) for a central location (email, website, moodle, something!) where teachers involved in the CIM process can share ideas, concerns, successes. At EVERY “Process Check” meeting, I have asked the same question and have received the same answer:” We are working on that and should have it ready by our next meeting”. Nothing. But we have a CIM Director who instead of CREATING this means of communication or even fostering the notion, is requiring teachers to send in their focus lessons- for. . .?? It’s been an entire school year and we still have nothing concrete to work from. Not only are teachers being asked to send in focus lessons, but they are being told to redo them with a specific font, format, etc. Meanwhile-a TEACHER has created a website for elementary teachers with everything they need for focus lessons and assessments for EVERY benchmark in grades K-5. I also mentioned this MANY times at several of the CIM meetings- but have never seen that information shared via email with other teachers-except for the emails I sent myself. I mentioned the site ONCE to my principal and the next week we had the person responsible for the website here at my school training our teachers had to use the resources on the site. Please check out the website at : . If you have any trouble navigating the site or do not understand what you are seeing, please don’t hesitate to ask- I would be happy to help you. This is only one portion of Ensley Elementary’s website. There are so many helpful resources there for teachers, I can’t possibly list them all here. Please check out the school’s website and see what’s available to all teachers, not just the teachers at Ensley Elementary. The creator of website is Myra Palmer, a third grade classroom teacher. Oh, but wait-that’s one of the schools and some of the children who are “pulling the district down”.** Materials/Programsð Do you have any idea how much you have just spent on the “new” SRA Reading materials? I don’t know the exact figures, but judging from the number of boxes already delivered to my school, I’d guess millions. I have had the opportunity to look at the new materials and they are by no means new. The covers are different. The levels have been lowered (what has been the book used in 4th grade will now be the standard for 3rd grade etc.). The same stories that I taught 9 years ago are in the “new” books. ð How about Academy of Learning software? We were using it and using it successfully and then it was taken from us because “someone” decided it would be better at the middle school level.ð How about Fast ForWord? A truly awesome program and one that is definitely needed in an at-risk school. Funding yanked, no one to administer the program. Cds sitting un-used. Hundreds of thousands of dollars.ð Just this past month, we learned we’d had a program (HOSTS Learning) for the past two or three years, yet as the Technology Coordinator, I knew nothing about it. The company rep called to find out how we liked the program and I had no idea we had access to it. The rep set up a demonstration for me and then I was told our license had run out and it would not be paid for again. We never knew we had it or used it the FIRST TIME!I do not understand how so much money can be wasted and so many salaries can be so totally out of line, and yet your solution to the budget crisis is to cut teacher positions, add more work to teachers’ loads, and cut ESP positions without even considering all this other nonsense first, and please don’t forget the latest and greatest nonsense- taking more money out of an already strapped budget to fund legal defenses for a battle of egos between the board and OUTGOING Superintendent.I am very proud of my chosen profession. I am very proud of my school. I am very proud of the hard work of the teachers, students, and staff at my school. I would like to be proud of my school district as well. I have taught at-risk students for my entire 28 year teaching career. It has been the most rewarding thing I have undertaken. This school year has been my most enjoyable, rewarding year ever. Please don’t ruin that by making me or any of my colleagues an at-risk teacher. Consider who the most important stakeholders in this are and do the very best you can for the students of Escambia County Schools.I thank you for your time and leave you with these words of Winston Churchill:The price of greatness is responsibility.-- Winston ChurchillMake us a great district. Take responsibility for your actions and do the right thing.Make it a great day or not, the CHOICE is YOURS.Debby DoroughM.Ed. Instructional TechnologyNTTI Master Teacher, ACETech CoordinatorMontclair ElementaryEEA District IV Director(850)595-6969 ext 254 WK850-450-1193-cellFax: (850)595-6968


Anonymous said...

The tone of both emails seemed overly mean and harsh. some good ideas from the teacher, though.

Jeff Bergosh said...

The tone of both of these emails seems very harsh. However, I am trying to maintain a sense of professionalism even as some attack us personally. I will always defend myself, though.