Archive » September 23, 2010
OVERCROWDED CLASSES AND FUNDRAISING V. ADMINISTRATIVE BLOAT
By Michelle de Werd, Guest Columnist
Our public dollars should be spent in the classrooms and addressing the overcrowded issues immediately at Santa Ynez High. Class sizes for core subjects are at record highs. Teaching positions that were eliminated in 2009-10 have not been fully reinstated.
Last year, there were not enough seats in some classes to accommodate all the students and this year is a repeat. Our science classes, for example, are designed for 25 students or lab spaces, more chairs are brought in, but desktop space is limited. Is this a suitable environment for learning? The “City of Bell” syndrome echoes with regards to actions of Santa Ynez High School’s administration over the past year. During the peak of the budget crisis when teachers were pink-slipped, Superintendent Paul Turnbull secured a bonus for himself in the form of a $10,000 non-taxable allowance for the pursuit of a Doctorate degree. Originally this allowance was to be used for his relocation from Santa Barbara to within our district boundaries, but he never moved.
A month or so before Turnbull secured this bonus for himself, the parents of the Music Boosters were notified that the music program was going to suffer severe cutbacks. Dedicated parents and community members stepped up and preserved the program by donating thousands of dollars. This year the Music Boosters and community members continue to donate to ensure a quality music program for all our students. A recommendation to Turnbull: Donate your Doctorate allowance to the music department. That would be the morally correct thing to do. While Turnbull’s Doctorate was covered by the taxpayers, the teachers were not afforded the same benefit. Instead, some teachers were required to obtain a CLAD (Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development) certification with their own after-tax dollars to maintain their employment. A Ph.D. was not a requirement of Turnbull’s employment.
Over the next five years, Superintendent Paul Turnbull will receive more than $1 million in total salary and benefits. Some of his perquisites include guaranteed 3 percent annual salary increases with no cap and an additional 10-day allowance if he decides to work an extra 10 days each year. Please, school board members, do we need Paul Turnbull to work an extra 10 days at a rate of $850 a day? Order him to stop taking the extra 10 days and perform his duties within his contracted work year of 220 days. Turnbull’s contract only requires him to work 220 days for $181,000/year plus benefits. Who in the private sector makes $181,000/year and gets eight weeks of vacation? In addition to Turnbull’s salary, other perquisites include medical and dental, a monthly $500 travel allowance, membership fees (and fines) for the Rotary Club paid by the district, life insurance benefits and a $400 medical examination.
To add insult to injury, for the second year, parents of athletes are required to pay a $50 transportation fee to offset costs to games. Repeal these fees if reserves are available to fund the tuition for the Superintendent’s Doctorate.
Santa Ynez High School is a small school of fewer than 1,000 students – the only basic-aid high school in Santa Barbara County. The majority of the funding comes directly from our property tax dollars, not Sacramento. Our revenues per child, according to 2008-09 data, are almost double compared to surrounding high schools. If we have approximately twice the revenues per student, why are our classrooms so overcrowded? Where are our tax dollars going? Our school should be hiring more teachers and reducing class size rather than spending reserves on administrative salary and benefit increases that far exceed similar jobs in the private sector.
Another example of the excess in administration is the school’s District Fiscal Coordinator in 2008-09 earned $62,000 per year. This person was promoted to Business Manager in 2009-10, with a salary increase to $91,000. In 2010-11, she will receive another pay increase that brings her salary to $102,000 yearly. Can just two years justify a 65-percent salary increase?
There are nine candidates running for the high school board in November. Please attend the Candidate Forum from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, at the Santa Ynez High School’s Little Theatre, ask questions and listen carefully. We need knowledgeable, creative, innovative, hard-working, and well-educated individuals who will always look at the big picture and ask, “How will my decision help the students?”