Recent administrative hires by Rockwood School District Superintendent Bruce Borchers prompted an outcry this week from critics, who said Wednesday that the hires, who were colleagues of Borchers' previous school district, should not have been approved.
The criticism came in part in a column by St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Bill McClellan. The column reiterated a report that Borchers hired two former colleagues through the Minnesota school district he taught at prior to the 2010-2011 school year. Nancy DuBois and Randy Smasal, who were colleagues of Borchers in Minnesota, accepted a consulting contract with the Rockwood School District while still employed full-time in Minnesota, the article said. The two individuals then were given full time positions with Rockwood as an "executive director of learning and support services" and as an "associate superintendent of learning," respectively. Both positions came with a pay increase of more than $40,000.
Patch readers e-mailed over the weekend up through Wednesday morning regarding the hires at the district, which includes west of Ellisville, and several local grade schools.
Questions and observations from Patch readers included:
- Why is funding being spent on consulting when the district faces budget cuts?
- Who authorized the funding for consultants, and how has it been managed over the school year?
- What has been the role of the district's board of education directors, and did they know about the pre-existing relationship between Borchers and the hires?
- Why were consultants paid $1,800 per day?
- Did the professionals who did the consulting work reccomend and in effect create their own full-time positions?
Earlier this year, Patch was aware that some consulting was being rendered by educational professionals who previously worked with Borchers. Patch also was aware that some Rockwood employees disapproved of the practiced, but declined to go 'on the record' because of job security.
Rockwood board of directors indicated that hiring people who work in other districts is a fairly common practice for most school districts. In fact, they said, Rockwood engaged several consultants under the district's previous superintendent Craig Larson who then came to work in the district in various capacities.
Likewise, Rockwood employees are not prevented from consulting with other districts, and they reportedly have done so.
Directors confirmed that an effort to reorganize Rockwood has been under way this past school year, and that Borchers did not recommend hiring these key administrative positions right away, saying he didn't know which positions or skills would be needed when he first joined the district.
Now, just as Borchers spoke eagerly at Thursday evening's board meeting about the board's upcoming retreat at which the new team will be assembled, he faces a communications dilemma about perceptions of that team.
Patch will issue more information about the response and stance of Rockwood's board of education directors once it is available.