Posted tagged ‘District 208 election’

Taking Responsibility for Our Deals with RB Teachers — March 21, 2013

March 23, 2013

A post from long ago…
That holds up…

Leadership extracts the price of attention for the benefit of influence. As one who has criticized individual board members — who are elected public officials — and has also been subject to a fair piece of criticism and attack, I understand. No problem, happy to have it, no peep of a complaint here.

But I suggest we hesitate before using pages / posts here or at to make personal statements about individual teachers and their compensation.

Here’s why: “We” asked them to come here and “we” offered them the package they currently receive. “We” are shirking our responsibility if we blame them for accepting something we offered.

Here’s another reason: The teachers – unexpectedly – have reopened the contract. It is a proximate step towards a sustainable RB. Does it help to beat on people after they have done something that is in our mutual interests?

Through the pendency of negotiations it does our community no good, and a considerable amount of bad, to write, “Sally Sue teaches algebra for $100,000 per year and in the private sector she’d be lucky to make $50,000.” Why?

1) PRIOR BOARDS DID THIS IN OUR NAME. It wasn’t Sally Sue who elected the Board that declined to negotiate with the teachers, it was us. So, by attacking Sally Sue, one gets back to being upset with the folks we put on the board, and the people they hired to run the school.

Anger at the beneficiary of our mistake – either an individually or corporately as RBEA — begs the question. Instead, check the mirror.

2) If kids see posts attacking Sally Sue as an unemployable private-sector drop-out who seized the lottery ticket to happiness as an RBEA member, it undermines her ability to maintain order in her classroom. That affects the 120 or so kids who cycle through her classroom daily. Since Sally’s check still comes twice a month, who does that hurt?

3) Forget about “the class,” think about “a student.” If one’s child is a student of Sally Sue, and she’s being trashed, might one reasonably anticipate one’s child to think, “Hey, my teacher is a loser. What can she teach me? I’m skipping out this term . . . ” That term never comes back.

4) Most of us, me included, know zilch about what’s really happening in the school day-to-day. With few exceptions, we never really will — and thus our evaluation of Sally Sue is specious.

I have written frequently about the governance problem we had at RB. It was in fact largely a delegation problem. We delegated our authority to the Board, which in turn delegated most of its authority to several centers within the school — the athletic center, the vice/assistant principal center, the outsourced service provider center, the RBEA, etc. Because our Boards were otherwise occupied, none of centers in the school were aligned, nor were they oriented towards us. The wheels fell off when taxpayers said no to paying bills with which they did not agree, or when we found the boiler did not work, or the pool fan was broken and no one lifted a finger.

The new board, properly oriented, is bringing these centers back into alignment for us via a superintendent who is not part of the old cabal. Via the new Board, Dr. Skinkis carries our day-to-day delegation, not the various centers.

And, as Dr. Skinkis runs the place, it is he who knows — on our behalf — which teachers are cutting it and which aren’t. That is as it should be. He is roughly our G.M. to Principal Bylsma’s Manager — fielding the players Skinkis puts in her clubhouse (that’s a “Moneyball” analogy).

Even if one of us becomes a school board member, one’s personal involvement in teacher-by-teacher evaluation is going to be very strictly limited, or else there is a school board micro-managing issue.

Since Nov. 30 I have had a spreadsheet with all RB salaries for ten years. It is very interesting – and as a subject of descriptive statistical analysis it shows just how out to lunch our prior boards have been. Let me say it this way: They’d be right at home in the Greek Parliament when it comes to spending other people’s money. The problem is – that money is ours, and we have just about run out. The referendum was a big tab for their misfeasance.

It’s easy to blame bogey-people. (That’s the p.c. way of saying bogeymen.) It’s hard to take responsibility for a school district that was captured by internal centers because our elected board representatives phoned it in.

It is also hard for RBEA to re-open the contract, and I salute them for it. RBEA – while not our “partner” as the vision statement erroneously states — represents our single biggest expenditure. On any rational basis RBEA deserves respect informed by circumstances. As a community we have passed from ‘showing there is a problem’ to ‘finding a solution to the problem.’ That means our smart play is to strengthen both the Board (us) and RBEA (the teachers) to make the extremely difficult choices that will return RBHS to fiscal sustainability.

[End old post.]

Quite simply, thanks to the current Board’s dedication to emptying the overflowing in-box of issues left over from past procrastination, this election is really about only one thing: Referendum II.

The choice is: Who do you want representing YOU in the negotiations. One side is comprised of Referendum supporters, led by the CURB chair.

The other side has shown its fealty to the District’s 79% rejection of deficit spending, out of control spending and commitments to spending for which we do not have the money to pay, aka, the current contract.

I know which side I want representing me, both for the salary / compensation issues and the work rules, which are so far in the Union’s favor that it was willing to forego several years of raises to keep them…

…and that must be why this board said, “No deal, we must put work rules on the table.”

And that is why the hysteria level is beginning to echo the night-terrors of “Otherside.”

Seven years, average of 65 percent raises, work rules so favorable they are worth three years of raises. It was a nice run. Time for a catch-up contract for the community — and the folks who will negotiate it.

Cheers, c