Yesterday at a special board meeting, the board voted 4–1 to hire Patti Jaffe as our new superintendent.
It ended a long, drawn out and expensive superintendent search process——with the candidate being hired having been in our back yard all along.
Teachers and community members spoke warmly of Patti’s career-long dedication to our district and expressed confidence in her ability to lead us through these tough times.
I spoke in favor of the candidate but in opposition to the increased base salary for this position. In the same week that 19.2 teachers received pink slips, the board increased the base pay of our supe from $185,000 to $201,000.
That’s roughly 5 times the the salary of a beginning teacher and more than one thousand dollars for each day that school is in session. Longevity and vacation pay push the package even higher.
CCUSD has already asked its classified employees to take 9 unpaid furlough days next year and we’re expecting them to ask us to do the same when negotiations resume next Friday. As health benefits costs have gone up, CCUSD has not paid for those increases, you have. Class sizes for many are impossible. I have 41 desks in my classroom and with these latest teacher layoffs, class sizes are sure to increase.
Summer school programs are at risk and furlough days are shortening an already too-short school year. And if the Governor fails to gain an extension of those taxes this spring, schools may run out of money 6-8 weeks before the end of the next year’s school year.
Only board member Karlo Silbiger voted against this appointment. He also was in favor of the candidate but opposed to the compensation package.
We’ll need to press Mrs. Jaffe and this board right away to make some tough decisions. They missed the March 15 deadline to lay off any certificated administrators, but there is still time to make cuts with classified management employees. Or, CCUSD could choose to have their management employees, many of whom work 11 and 12 month contracts, work fewer days (particularly over the summer) so that the student school year can remain intact.
Many teachers have asked what they can do to help. For starters, you can attend and speak at the next school board meeting: Tuesday March 22 at 7:00. This meeting will be held, not at its usual location at the district offices, but at City Hall. There is more room; the seats are more comfortable; and I believe the meeting is televised as it happens.
We need to remind the board and our new superintendent that, while all employees contribute to the success of a school district, actual instruction takes place in the classroom. Cuts need to be found elsewhere. After all, students need more time in class, not less.
We need to explain to CCUSD that their solution to the financial crisis——cutting teachers and eliminating instructional days (while maintaining all administrators)———is not acceptable.
Editor’s Note; this was sent for publication with the understanding that it would be identified as a letter to the union from the president. So done.