Monday, September 21, 2009


Recently, The Canton Repository did a "puff piece" on the Stark Education Partnership, Inc. (SE),  (Stark Education Partnership celebrates 20 years of reforming education, Edd Pritchard, September 18, 2009).

The SCPR doesn't believe that the Stark Education Partnership has achieved much of anything.

But over the eight years of her tenure as president of SEP, Adrienne O'Neill has made a tidy income.

SEPs main claim to fame is increasing the number of graduates from Stark County's high schools above the state standard 90% plus.

And, increasing the graduation numbers (quantitative analysis) can be important.

The penetrating question that needs answered on SEP's work:  what is the education quality of high schools students graduating in Stark County?

Here is a SCPR thumbnail analysis of the Stark Education Partnership: 

Initially, let's take a look at Doctor (Ed. D.) O'Neill's income in relation to total revenues, expenditures and carryover funds for fiscal year 2008.
O'Neill, according to SEP's Form 990 filed with IRS for the fiscal year,  was paid a total of $191,760 (which includes the employer pension contribution).

O'Neill's income represents:

20% of SEP's revenues ($950,383) for the reporting period.
18% of SEP's expenses ( $1,050,170)
25% of SEP's carryover ($765,971) of cash to FY 2009

What are other non-profits in America doing:

If you lump the O'Neill income factor with her second-in-command:

O'Neill's income represents with SEP's vice president Doctor (Ph. D.) Joseph Rochford (which totaled $115,949), the the numbers increase significantly:

32% of SEP's revenues ($950,383) for the reporting period
29% of SEP's expenses ( $1,050,170)
40% of SEP's carryover ($765,971) of cash to FY 2009

And there are two other employees of SEP.

It appears that Stark Countians are not getting a good value on their money?

Hold on a minute, Olson!  What do you mean Stark Countians?  These monies come in large part, if not exclusively, from Stark County's foundations, United Way and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, don't they?

Indeed, they do.

But the SCPR's point:  is there is too much administrative expense being expended by the Stark Educational Partnership and could be put to more efficient "non-profit" use that thereby benefit more everyday Stark Countians.

Now back to the question of quantity versus quality.

Probably a year ago, the SCPR contacted Doctor O'Neill to ask questions about the unacceptably high "remediation rate" among Stark County high school graduates who go on to college.  (Three of Stark's best have remediation rates reported by the Ohio Department of Education of being in the 30+ percentile)

First of all, she blew off yours truly's e-mail.  Such is always a marker that a public figure thinks she or he is only accessible to her/his professional peers, personal friends and family.

Second, in yours truly's  follow up telephone call, she had no answer whatsoever on the remediation question and saturated the conversation with "the huge increase in the high school gradudation rate."

The SCPR's take on Doctor O'Neill is that she has done well by herself in fitting into Stark County's and Ohio's education establishment.  But how does it benefit the Stark County citizenry at-large?

Not very well, in the opinion of the SCPR.

The SCPR believes that Stark County schools are graduating too few quality students in the midst of  increased quantities which increases taxpayer costs because we foot the bill of remediating student/worker deficiencies once they leave high school.

The Repository and the Stark Education Partnership shouldn't be celebrating anything.

Is this a "Mission Accomplished" event?

Well, if O'Neill and the powers that be at The Rep and in the Stark County Educational establishment think so, they are in for a huge surprise when the educational "chickens come home to roost."

The SEP's website is replete with laudations for the organization.

The SCPR's experience is that when the "chest thumping" begins, the discerning need to dig deep to see why there is need to self-praise.

Usually one finds that there is a lot less achievement than appearances might indicate.

Such is what the SCPR thinks about the O'Neill-led Stark County Educational Partnership.

From time-to-time, the SCPR will be analyzing how effectively Stark County's non-profits are serving the Stark County public.

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