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Boston schools seek pricey consultant

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The Boston Public Schools are facing questions about a consultant the school district is trying to hire.

Dr. Rudy Crew used to work as a deputy superintendent in Boston back in the 1980s, but he also has a controversial work history.

On top of that, Crew stands to make tens of thousands dollars for just a few weeks of work.

Boston Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson wants to hire Dr. Crew to, “…provide professional development and other related educational services..." at a rate of $1,500 a day.

“We've asked him to come in and help us to work with principals to work with headmasters so that we can really zero in on our lowest performing schools and really see accelerated progress,” said Johnson.

Investigative reporter Mike Beaudet asked Johnson, “Is Dr. Crew really worth $1,500 a day?”

“Well I think the most important thing to remember here is what we're trying to do is really trying to make sure we bring in the best talent possible,” replied Johnson.

But is Dr. Crew really the best talent possible? That depends on whom you ask.

A high point of his career came in 2008 when the American Association of School Administrators named him national superintendent of the year.

A low point came just months later when Dr. Crew was fired from his job as Superintendent of the Miami-Dade County schools after being accused by critics of mismanaging the budget.

He was also ousted from his job as schools chancellor in New York City back in 2000 after a falling out with Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

But Superintendent Johnson is adamant Dr. Crew is the right man for Boston and according to the contract is willing to pay him up to $30,000.

At $1,500 dollars a day, he'll earn that after only 20 days of work.

“With all due respect Dr. Johnson, $1,500 a day. I'd love to be making that much money. Is he really worth all that money?” asked Beaudet.

“He's a national expert who is experienced in turning around underperforming schools. In developing strong partnerships with parents,” said Johnson.

Dr. Crew's contract doesn't add up for Richard Stutman, the president of the Boston Teachers Union.

“I don't know if he's worth it. The Red Sox brought in John Lackey and that hasn't really panned out. So I'm not sure if we rely on superstars that's going to get us anywhere,” said Stutman.

“Teachers spend money out of their pocket for supplies, the average teacher in Boston roughly $600 a year. Money is tight. Resources are at a premium. It just doesn't make fiscal sense to us to hire someone at $1,500 a day.”

Matt Cahill is executive director of the Boston Finance Commission which must approve city contracts worth more than $10,000 that are not advertised.

“You want to make sure you're doing the right thing with that money, especially in a school district because I feel like that money is taken from somewhere else to pay that person,” said Cahill.

The commission recently approved a contract for another Boston Public Schools consultant who will provide professional development for the school district.

She's getting paid $60.00 an hour, a fraction of Dr. Crew's proposed compensation.

“It's an unusual amount of money,” said Cahill when asked about the $1,500 daily rate for Dr. Crew.

So unusual the commission rejected Dr. Crew's contract, calling the daily compensation rate “excessive”.

“I question it. And I have the right to question it. And I think the taxpayers certainly have the right to question it,” said Cahill.

Superintendent Johnson could still ask Mayor Menino to approve the contract anyway.

But just days after Fox Undercover interviewed the superintendent, a spokesman for the Boston Public Schools said Dr. Johnson has no plans to ask the mayor to approve the contract.

So it now appears this contract is not happening.

Dr. Crew is weighing in on the controversy, releasing the following statement:

“As with any good business or large city school system, there is an occasional need for outside talent to be a part of the overall strategy for improvement. This contract aimed at bringing new tools, resources, and partnerships to bear on the neediest schools and the most challenged Boston communities. It is not out of line to do so, it is well within budget, and any CEO or superintendent has the responsibility to find the talent that gives their children the greatest opportunity to succeed. Dr. Johnson has done just that within the framework and legal parameters of her board of education. Sadly, it appears politics has now come into play.”
 

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