April 28th, 2009 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools

Another Day, Another Death Knell for Vicki Phillips' Legacy

Cathy

Cathy Mincberg, who was hired in 2005 by then-Superintendent Vicki Phillips for Portland Public Schools, is leaving the district for a new job.

Mincberg will be vice president and chief academic officer with a Portland-based online education provider (whose websites bear eery resemblance to online advertisements for certain pharmaceuticals.) But I digress.

Mincberg's four-year tenure at PPS has included numerous highlights (or lowlights, depending on your point of view.) For the sake of history, I'm recording those moments here.

In April 2006, when Mincberg oversaw the district's communications office, PPS hired a freelance writer to pen positive news about the district.

In July 2006, Mincberg started tracking what dishes were popular in school cafeterias in order to offer those dishes (mostly pizza and burritos) more often. The move aimed to generate more cash for food service in schools. "I would be surprised if any school district required its math department to break even," Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, said at the time.

In the spring of 2007, Mincberg failed to help several charter schools lease space from PPS, even though the district had numerous empty buildings, saying "We generally find it's extremely rude to lease a building and then say, 'We need it back.'"

In July 2007, Mincberg expressed interest in applying for the job to replace Hurricane Vicki as PPS's new superintendent, a move that riled some parents. "We've seen Cathy Mincberg in action, and it was purely tactical and without a strategic vision," parent Ben Joy said at the time in response to the news.

From fall 2007 through most of 2008, Mincberg helped oversee the district's initial efforts to rebuild its 90-plus school buildings with the help of Magellan Consulting, a Texas firm that earned $920,000 for that work.

In January 2008, Jobs with Justice made Mincberg Grinch of the Year for pushing to slash the wages of district custodians and food-service workers.

This week, Mincberg is in California at the Milken Institute's "global conference." Location? The Beverly Hilton. She returns to Portland Friday.

Next week, Mincberg is on vacation. Her last day is May 15. It was not immediately clear if, or when, she would be replaced. Meantime, I have to point out something that's just too hard to ignore. Doesn't School Board candidate Pam Knowles (pictured below, on the right) look like her?

Cathy PamKnowles
 
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