Sunday, January 17, 2016


Schools Superintendent John Ramos, who brought in a former colleague last summer to run an $8,000 one-day seminar for the school board, has apparently done the same with a $15,000 education consultant hired to facilitate the district's strategic plan.

Soarpoint Associates of Warwick, R.I., has strong ties to Ramos dating back to his days at the Bridgeport School District and his time at two other positions in Watertown, Ct., and The Rhode Island Department of Education.

Ramos, who was fired from the Bridgeport district several years ago and recently worked at a private school in Qatar, was hired this past summer and has been on the job since August 1, 2015. He replaced former Superintendent Brian Osborne, who left in 2014 for a higher paying job in New York. 

One of his first projects was the district-wide Education Summit in November. He hired Soarpoint Associates for that event at $1,500. After that, he successfully hired them to help create a strategic plan for the district at another $13,500.

Internal emails obtained by indicate no bidding process or request for proposals was ever done. Instead, Ramos reached out to Soarpoint, a company he had used in 2010 in Bridgeport during his time there.  

Soarpoint's one-page profile cites only five previous projects, three of which are in locations where Ramos has worked. Their promotional material even includes a recommendation letter from Ramos during his time in Bridgeport.  

Last Fall, prior to hiring Soarpoint, Ramos contacted The Achieve Foundation, the local non-profit group that funds many local education initiatives, seeking the group's donation to pay for Soarpoint's work. Achieve did eventually commit to covering the $15,000 cost.

Emails and letters between the district and Achieve Executive Director Deborah Prinz also discuss the creation of a "representative group of persons who are committed to excellence for all students and parents of the district" to help create an action plan for the process.

No call for interested residents to participate was ever made and the representative group met last week over three days in secret. Although a letter to the district after the summit stated "many opportunities to participate" in that planning session would be available in January, no request for participating in the representative group was ever issued.

The Soarpoint proposal indicates a final plan using these residents and their own people will be released in April.

While none of this appears to be illegal, and it will be funded with an outside donation so as to spare a new tax burden, the secrecy has raised eyebrows. In addition, Ramos' ties to the consulting firm are also notable. 

Some are also asking why the district cannot facilitate the strategic planning itself instead of bringing in a group from out of state with clear conflicts with the superintendent, whose work might need to be scrutinized as well. 

The district recently issued an update on the process that sought to appease fears. See it HERE.

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