Sunday, September 12, 2010

A New School Year: A Kite in the Wind...

A kite in the wind… that’s my personal metaphor for the new school year.

You might ask, “How’s that working for you, Don?”

And I might answer with a sigh.

I see the wind: the superintendent continues her “spinning” ways, for example… at the “Welcome Back” BBQ she mentioned that if the current budget crisis continues, we could end up with a state appointed administrator who would cost the district $150,000!

I did the math. At a board meeting last year, the Los Angeles budget guru gave the formulae for the cost of a state appointed administrator: 80% of the district’s superintendent’s salary.

$165,000 x 80% is $132,000 not $150,000.  Simple math, simple fact, and simply not $150,000.

It made me think: If that simple number is being erroneously presented as fact, what other numbers are?

(What new “dots” have shown up on your radar?) The wind continues to blow.

Here’s another dot on my radar:

The state rejects our district’s budget and tells us to refigure it without the COLA. The district recalculates the budget and the only thing they do is take out the COLA… it still gets rejected. Of course it does! But now the district can say, “We tried twice!”

 (The second try was not a try, it was a ruse!) At least that’s what it looks like to me… up in the sky… trying to maintain a kite-like perspective.

Is the district administration so bereft of ideas that all they can do is continue to blame the economy and the teachers’ union? (And misrepresent fiction as fact!)

Here’s an idea:

Have the superintendent take a “temporary” pay cut to $50,000 a year. Not only would that demonstrate her commitment to share the economic pain, but it might make it difficult to find someone willing to work for 80% of $50,000 which is… see if you can do the math!

(Or… take a cut to $1 a year… it’s been done before… who would take the job for 80 cents?)

The only problem with this scenario is that, unlike the temporary pay cut that the teachers took, I doubt if the superintendent would be willing to make it permanent, like she’s asking the teachers to do.

Another “aha” moment for me: I suspected the Memorandum of Understanding which made the last two years of temporary cuts temporary would mean that my pay would be reinstated with a restored step and column. The district would never say so, but that’s just what happened.

Of course teachers are being warned not to spend their reinstated salary increases, because a new contract will probably be negotiated that involves retroactive pay cuts to the beginning of this school year. (Actually, the pay cuts will be retroactive for two years… because what was promised to be temporary will become permanent… in violation of the MOU.)

Forthrightness, honesty, clarity… too much to ask? No.

Too much to expect? Yes, as long as the School Board continues to allow this wind to blow unchecked.

In the mean time…. Class sizes are up, budgets are down, and teachers are being asked to do more with less… with more less to come.

Good kite flying weather.


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