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  • Wednesday, March 25, 2009



    Metro VIEWS
    A community service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization
    Giving voice to the Greater Orange Communities

    A community editorial by Orange Net News

    Orange Unified School District Superintendent Renae Drier’s administration “balanced” the latest legal Interim Budget using $7.6 million dollars in cuts that need to be “negotiated” with the district’s employee associations in the future. Aside from proposing cutting contracted positions, Drier (with the OUSD Board’s consent) has proposed all OUSD employees take a 3.75% pay cut to balance the OUSD budget. Drier has made it clear that the pay cut would include ALL employees including administrators. The Superintendent has publicly included herself in this proposed pay cut.

    Under former OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley, the OUSD Administrators pay increases were tied to the pay increases received in negotiations with the employee associations. In the Godley years, the Classified staff association (the CSEA) always managed to negotiated a pay increase before the teachers group. When that increase was submitted to the OUSD Board for approval, a matching increase for the Administrators was submitted to the OUSD Board for approval at the same time. Later, when the teacher’s group (the OUEA) settled a negotiated pay hike, that hike and a matching percentage for the Administrators were submitted to the OUSD Board on the same agenda for approval. In essence, the employee groups were negotiating hikes for themselves and the Administrators. (Trustee Rick Ledesma, now OUSD Board President, has long been publicly opposed to the automatic Administrator pay hikes without negotiations). In addition, Godley proposed, and the OUSD Board approved, removing all the very top OUSD Administrators (except the Superintendent) from publicly approved multi-year contracts and regular performance reviews (similar to the Superintendent). The contracts were replaced by the Administrators being placed on the regular Administrative Step and Column pay scale that was subject to the Board approved percentage hikes. This move effectively hid the pay of the very top OUSD Administrators (except for the publicly approved Superintendent contract) and gave them the regular Administrative pay hikes approved by the OUSD Board. It is now time for the practice of OUSD Adminstrative “me too” to stop. It is time for leadership from the district’s Leaders.

    All through the current fiscal crisis, budget cut options have been publicly vetted. Yet, in the last budget report, the legally required Interim Budget included a place holder of $7.6 million in “future” negotiated cuts. While this was legal in the Interim Budget, a similar tactic in the legally required June Budget will result in financial sanctions against the district. It is against this backdrop that we call upon the OUSD Administration and Trustees to show that they are serious about asking for sacrifice from the voters and employees by unilaterally taking the proposed 3.75 % pay cut immediately.

    Superintendent Drier has made great fanfare about cutting out cell phones, instituting a hiring freeze, and suspending the use of expensive educational consultants. Now it is time for her to get serious. Drier need not have protracted negotiations with anyone, or any group to personally take the 3.75% pay cut she has said is needed from her employees, nor would she have to negotiate with anyone to propose that the OUSD Board immediately vote to cut the OUSD Administrative Pay Scale by the same amount before starting negotiations with the employee groups and asking voters to approve the sacrifices needed in the May 19th Special Election.

    It is also time that the OUSD Trustees get serious before the inevitable resolutions calling for voter support for the upcoming Special Election propositions. Trustee Melissa Smith courageously proposed at the March 12 OUSD Board Meeting that the OUSD Trustees take a pay cut and give up OUSD health benefits. No protracted negotiations would be required for the OUSD Trustees to take a 3.75% cut in their per meeting pay or to vote to give up the local taxpayer provided health benefits they are entitled to as Trustees. They can do this immediately.

    In passing up the tough cuts needed to balance the OUSD budget like closing other small schools, or eliminating recently added third high school assistant principals (while favoring cutting high school counselors) plus using future negotiated cuts with employees as a place holder, the district has been criticized as using “hocus pocus” budgeting. California taxpayers and voters spent months watching the lack of leadership in Sacramento continue to delay tough decisions into the future and leave those tough decisions to others. It is time that the OUSD Leadership put their money where their proposals are. It is time for budget leadership and modeling sacrifice from the OUSD Leadership. Only then will the taxpayers and district employees be expected to also sacrifice.

    Opinions expressed in Metro VIEWS are not necessarily the opinion of the networks that post it.

    Metro VIEWS
    is a community service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization

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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization