In spring 2005, Ford said, she was looking for ways to remain active in education after her retirement, scheduled for that summer. Ford said she, Kelly and two other women who had worked at Horace Mann decided to create a nonprofit group to spread enthusiasm for literacy training across D.C. schools. They incorporated the institute March 25 that year, and Ford became president and executive director. Her compensation, which started four months later, is listed as $150,000.Calkins is the draw:
"It was a spontaneous initiative by four of us," Ford said. "We saw this as a huge moral obligation."
After receiving its funding, the Teachers Institute quickly sent a group of assistant superintendents to New York for training. In the years since, it has sent teachers to visit Calkins's programs and brought staff members from the program to visit District schools. It holds three-day training sessions and monthly study meetings for teachers and principals.
The group has purchased thousands of children's books and provided schools with rugs for children to curl up on while reading.
In September 2006, Kelly said, the institute rented a warehouse to store a "vast quantity" of excess books, supplies and electronics that the organization had bought with public funds and whose value Kelly estimated at $100,000.[snip]
An Internal Revenue Service filing shows that, for the year that ended in June, the organization spent more than $1 million on "professional development." Over two years, the institute reported spending $244,000 on computers and software, $357,000 on travel and $1.1 million on printing and publications.The kids are running out of time. They desperately need to be saved by Calkins.
In an initial interview, Ford estimated that the institute had 16 employees. Later, she said the number was actually two, explaining that the rest of her staff members were public school teachers detailed to assist the institute.
When The Washington Post questioned an IRS filing by the institute showing that it had spent $94,000 on the unpaid board of directors, an outside accountant for the group determined the number to be a mistake. The accountant, John T. Squire, said the group will file a corrected report to the IRS.
Ford referred many questions about spending and bookkeeping issues to her outside accountants, saying she prefers to keep her focus on the programs aimed at children. Time spent answering questions about finances, she said, detracts from the push to improve reading and writing.
"It is really hard to be diverted from the mission," Ford said. "The kids in the city are running out of time. I just want to do the work."