Recent administrative hires by Rockwood School District's Superintendent Bruce Borchers prompted an outcry this week from critics, who say should not have happened because Borchers worked with them in Minnesota and recently received their consulting services concerning the positions.
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 accepted a consulting contract with the Rockwood School District while still employed full-time by their own district, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Sunday. 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 have emailed over the weekend through Wednesday morning regarding the hires at the district.
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 they consulting work recommend and in effect create their own full-time positions?
Earlier this year, Patch knew educational professionals who previously worked with Borchers were doing consulting work for Rockwood. Patch also was aware that some Rockwood employees disapproved of the practice, but declined to go 'on the record' because of job security.
Members of the Rockwood school board indicated that hiring people who work in other districts is a fairly common practice for most school districts. In fact, they said, Rockwood used 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 he spoke eagerly at Thursday evening's school board meeting about the board's upcoming retreat at which the new team will be assembled, Borchers 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 once it is available.
Correction: This article has been modified to more correctly reflect Borchers' relationship with DuBois and Smasal. It was last updated at 6:15 p.m. on June 22.