Innovation Fund – Another poorly thought out idea by Glass

The difference between a Visionary and Operational organizational leader became painfully evident at this week’s Board meeting.

I agree that an Innovation Fund, managed well, has its place and could derive benefits for the District.

However, once again, as is becoming a common theme with Glass, the implementation details were poorly thought out and demonstrate the operational inexperience and incompetence of Glass and his District staff.

First, even though this may be a good idea, you don’t raid District reserves that have already been depleted by adding seats for the District’s controversial move to a K-5, 6-8 configuration. This puts reserves at the very low end of the recommended level. It also seems extremely dangerous to me, given the length, and now velocity of the economic upturn. As someone who has experienced multiple downturns, that scares me every day. Therefore, instead of planning for the inevitable, as prudent and experienced leaders would do, Glass, and the Board, have put the District into a position of financial weakness if the economy collapses in the short term. All of this for an idea that is not an absolute necessity.

Second, I don’t understand why this needed to happen so quickly, or even how there is any chance that fund uses will show results by the end of this school and fiscal year. Grant recipients won’t be announced until the week of March 5th. This means that awardees will only have approximately 2 months to use the funds and show results before the end of the year. I don’t see how anything meaningful can come about in that short of time. The proposed timeline for 2018-19 is even more puzzling. For that school year recipients won’t be announced until November. While this provides roughly a semester for awardees to implement and obtain results, it completely ignores full-year, or first semester innovation opportunities. When added together, wouldn’t it be better to slow this process down and award grants in the April time frame for the 2018-19 school year? Wouldn’t this give grant awardees planning time that would better ensure the success of their ideas? To account for the District’s budget cycle, grants could be awarded contingent upon the Board approving 2018-19 Operating Funds, removing the necessity of depleting Reserves. If during the upcoming Budget cycle the Board prioritizes other District needs higher than the Innovation Fund, then the awardees do not receive their grants. They would know by June, still have time for planning and eliminating the need to pull from reserves.

All of this raises the question: “What’s more important in Jeffco, a Visionary or Operational leader?” Clearly, Glass wants to be a Visionary, and with this recommendation he wanted a quick “win”. However, he has demonstrated time and time again with his poorly thought out ideas (e.g. no clue regarding implications of and the difficulty of starting an Arts Academy, a HS GT RIE committee that utterly failed in its stated purpose of finding program sustainability and now a poorly thought out Innovation fund created from District reserves) that he and his District staff have no clue, are incompetent and are out of their league operationally.

A Vision is nice, but Glass and his staff have proven that they won’t have the ability to implement it, merely reinforcing DeliverEd’s findings. I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less as the Board hired someone from a District 12 times smaller than Jeffco and without the operational experience necessary to manage a district the size of ours.

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