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After Heated Exchange, Trustee Pay Reduced by $50

Parents and Capistrano Unified's school board members question the political motivations of opposing and supporting a pay cut for trustees.

Exchanges at the Board of Trustee meeting got heated Monday when parents and trustees started questioning the motives behind a discussion to eliminate school board members’ stipends.

Trustee John Alpay said because staff was having a hard time calculating a pay decrease he first successfully proposed in June, he thought it would be easier to set a flat number, or even ditch the monthly paycheck altogether.

Trustee pay is set by board policy at $750 a month but was reduced in half in February 2008. It has not been adjusted since.

Three dads, who came to the meeting in a group of 10, spoke to the trustees, telling them that their priorities in discussing a cut in compensation were misplaced.

Parent Jared Wall called the discussion “very ill-timed, seeing that it’s 60 days before the election.” He noted a bigger concern is the number of days eliminated from the school calendar this year, which includes 45 minimum days.

“I didn’t have 45 minimum days my entire school career combined,” Wall said. “I just don’t feel that my kids have that same chance right now, and it’s ridiculous.”

While the effort to decrease trustee stipends appears to be a “decent gesture,” said dad Jevin Ferguson, he finds it “deceitful” in light of .

Ferguson is campaign manager for one of Alpay’s opponents, Steve Lang, in his race for re-election.

Trustee Sue Palazzo declared the whole thing a "circus,” but then Trustee Lynn Hatton and President Gary Pritchard said it was Palazzo who was making a political speech.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a trustee to attack another trustee on the dais,” Hatton said.

Palazzo is retiring from the board in November, but she has publicly endorsed two candidates challenging Alpay and President Gary Pritchard. She accused Alpay of flip-flopping on the issue and spending more time on trustee compensation than .

“This is the same trustee who, with the cooperation of the board president, shut down discussion of both the teachers’ contract agenda item and in June,” she said. “Way too much time has been spent on trustee stipends by this board and staff. What kind of example is this board setting?”

In the end, the board voted 7-0 to reduce trustee pay by $50, to $325.

“We need to show solidarity with our employees,” Alpay said.

concerned parent September 15, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Shelly, In response to "economy tanked" etc, why won't you ever address the issue of CUSD being in significantly worse (i.e. close to insolvent) shape than other comparable districts, largely because of deliberate actions taken by the majority board? For example, it's extraordinarily rare for a district to have to get a loan to cover its payroll. That should NEVER happen. So, using your logic, should teacher salaries/benefits be preserved at all costs, even if it drives the district to bankruptcy? Because it sure seems that's where we're headed these days... and even if the tax increase does pass, it does absolutely nothing to deal with the structural deficit this district faces. This is not a one-time, one-year problem. It's a systemic failure due to salaries taking too large a percentage of the budget--and that's something furlough days only address on a temporary basis. Other than the fact they directly hurt our kids' education (oh yeah--why should any of us worry about how much students are actually in class being taught?), furlough days solve nothing on a longterm basis.
fact checker September 15, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Yes I did see those scores...and they were obtained with 160 days of school. The state at that time was requiring 180. Not sure why OPA was allowed to have fewer, but it didn't seem to hurt the scores. I am not a fan of judging schools by test scores due to the shenanigans that can be a result of that. This is not a reflection on any particular school...but it happens a lot. And it goes beyond cheating on the tests. Many crucial curriculum decisions are made to encourage high test scores over a balanced emphasis which includes pedagogies that include critical and creative thinking. My comments regarding OPA are not meant to be judgmental. I know nothing about their curriculum or teaching practices except what can be read on the website and in their charter. I mention it because of the Concern expressed here that furlough days will affect school performance. It seems that is not always the case. Furlough days are one way of dealing with reduced revenues and are being used statewide. It seems that some posters here feel that teachers should bear more of the financial burden. I have repeatedly asked those who say that to post how much they would find reasonable and whether they are willing to pony up themselves to make up for the reduced revenues.
Capo Parent September 16, 2012 at 04:15 PM
FC Instead of focusing on 160 days, how about posting how many instruction minutes OPA had last year vs. other K-8 schools like Arroyo Vista.
fact checker September 16, 2012 at 04:36 PM
No need to focus on schools that are within state mandates for instructional minutes. If OPA did that with more minutes and fewer days then they satisfied the mandate. So do all other schools in CUSD. So Dawn, I think we have an answer to your question. If you need further assurance please contact the district and I am confident they will be able to address your concerns without an audit.
O Captain! My Captain! October 15, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I'm voting for Steve Lang for sure. Good businessman with no political favors to repay. (www.stevelang4cusd.com) On the other hand, check out how his opponent, John Alpay, has voted time and again to cut instruction time, increase class sizes, and waste money hurting teachers and the district. (www.whoisjohnalpay.com)

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