Thursday, September 06, 2007

More than just stealing milk money

There has been a lot of chatter recently about the list of required items that students must purchase prior to the start of school. For the many families that have more than a single child in school, these expenses can quickly add up. Just ask Assistant Superintendent Marla Miller how much it cost her to send her children to school - or you can just read it in the Seattle Times by clicking here. Why would anyone advertise their hyper-extravagance during a budget crisis of $5 million?

For the many of us that are raising families on something less than a superintendent's salary - of more than $200,000 per year - these expenses can make a big difference in a family budget. A reasonable person has to ask the obvious question like, "How can a person earning more than the Vice President of the United States and Secretary of State endorse such a lengthy list of new fees and necessities?"

Are you aware that while parents and students were away from the classroom, the school board passed a rather large and grotesque set of raises for administrators that amount to just under $30.00 per student. How far could that $30.00 per student have gone toward helping correct other budget casualties? Why hand out cash to your friends with one hand while cutting back needed programs and services with the other?


Anonymous said...

I could send my daughter to Prom "in style" if I had the salary of Marla Miller; unfortunately, most kids feel intimidated at events such as Prom, if they cannot ride in a limo and wear a "designer dress". Parents go into debt just to keep up with the "Jones's".

Anonymous said...

I just find it incredibly insensitive, which is why I had to share it with the blog.

Anonymous said...

OK, OK, now it's getting just a bit too personal. Leave the kids and the families out of it. Marla and Al's twins both worked long hours at outside jobs to earn a good chunk of that money. They're great kids - and testimony to the level of academid and student achievement of which every staffer in the district can be proud. Neither one of the kids, and certainly not Al nor Marla, ever "flaunted" anything. The family felt duped by the Times reporter who portrayed the story idea one way, asked for the family's "help" in providing information about the high costs of senior year, and delivered the story with a whole different slant. I know and agree there are BIG problems of equity and leadership in the district, but you're losing me here when the attacks become personal. I can only imagine what you'd do with my skewed and twisted life if I was an administrator and not a lowly classified peasant! Focus on the problems, please, not on the personalities! In the meantime, reading most of this is a wicked pleasure, and I commend you for your guts and enthusiasm! Write on! said...

Oklahoma (OK, OK),

I am sorry. I have never met Marla's twins. As far as I am concerned, they can walk on water while turning it into wine. I just don't see why it is so important to share this story with the world.

Why wouldn't a reporter cover a story about how a family relies on handouts and lives in a one room apartment because the bread winner used to be a custodian or teacher?

The story wasn't about their academic record. It was about one family's price tag for a senior year of high school.

In future, I will filter out such comments.

Mark Zandberg

Anonymous said...

I was wondering when this might resurface - I remember attention being drawn to it at the time and the negative affect it had on other District parents experiencing their senior student's final days (daze).

Although it is true how someone chooses to spend their money is their business, this merits comment because of circumstance. I will state the obvious (well, someone has to).

First, let us not blame the reporter. This can be seen as a typical gross, wasteful, ultra-consumer example of what we are teaching our children in irresponsible spending. Since it represents a lapse in both judgment and fiscal waste it perfectly reflects the behavior we have unfortunately had to come to expect from the role model from which this type is cast.

Most of us have to be realistic about this kind of expenditure with regard to our children's education and subsequent peripherals. We as a nation have, as a by-product of not applying generally and following the above, developed a sub-culture that acts without forethought and follows hedonism - living for the moment without a nod to consequence.

This lapse in judgment can further be exampled by the notorious drinking habits of the previous Superintendent who, when turning in receipts for reimbursement, would include his bar tabs during lunches and dinners. As a neutral my comment is that here was a man with a drinking problem and, although this was disturbingly clear evidence of it, no aid or concern was extended from any professional/moral obligation or perspective. Perhaps the need to keep Superintendents in one's back pocket perpetuated an allowance to keep him inebriated most of the time.

Perspective over the implications in behavior and actions of figures in important positions of power should be our right to share as we continue to observe, monitor and discuss.

Anonymous said...

I was not aware that the former Superintendent had a drinking problem, but it doesn't surprise me at all. He wined and dined a Principal who also left the District, however, I was not aware that he turned in his bar tabs for reimbursement using tax payer's dollars. What's wrong with this picture? Who is keeping track of expenditures?

Anonymous said...

OK, it's me again! I hate to appear to be "sticking up for" the district in any of these justifiable criticisms, but I do have to say that my best guess is if the old Supe did, indeed, turn in bar tabs for reimbursement, he was probably NOT reimbursed. Here's why - the incredible woman who works at ESC and watches those expenditures with an eagle eye has caught just such requests for reimbursement that have been submitted from our building by teachers and admins attending conferences and workshops. She is one hard working individual, with a heart as big as the sky, but with an equally big commitment to fair play, integrity and equity in enforcing the rules. I can't believe those reimbursements got past her. And no, she's not an administrator, but she SHOULD be! That's why it's hard to hear blanket criticisms of "the district," when so much of the district is composed of really dedicated and heroic people. said...


I totally agree with your assessment of the non-administrator. I know her well and have great respect for her. She has always been a rock steady advocate for the appropriate use of public funds.

Unfortunately, she is not running Business Services and no doubt has many of her own stories to share.

Mark Zandberg

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the described big hearted but anonymous individual will join us and add some helpful comments.

I strongly believe that the Superintendent was not reimbursed for turning in his receipts listing his alcohol consumption during his work days as policy dictates that this is not a reimbursable expense (although specifically it was designed to cover overnight stays outside the District). In these cases his were not slipped under the carpet as exceptions. It was a huge lapse in judgment on his part, though, to have included them in his requests knowing that they were to become public record and on file. I may be a bit prudent but I don't believe that this is something we should expect from our Superintendent, or anyone in a recognized position of high decision making. If I showed up to work after lunch with alcohol on my breath I might expect some form of warning or discipline.

Further, regarding the exorbitant expenses and dubious attitude toward the value in spending almost $20,000.00 over 2 nights to create what might be considered a superficial memory of ending high school might suggest a selfishness that is supposed to be absent in the personality profile of the average dedicated school district employee.

Anonymous said...

I am in total agreement with the statement about the person who oversees reimbursement paperwork. I am aware of so many ESD employees whose hearts and morals are in the right places, giving the District their monies worth when they do their jobs, however, most of these folks are non- adminstrative employees who do all the work, while some (I said some)administrators, who make the "Big Bucks", sit at computers and play Solitaire or worse! The ESD is fortunate to have employees who care about the education of kids and are not paid enough for what they do for kids, especially those with special needs. Too bad the Superintendent and his assistants, couldn't get off their Herman Miller chairs and go visit buildings and see what goes on with kids, and employees who care about them! said...

To 09/08/07 @ 8:01,

The $18,000 was spent on senior year essentials for a set of twins over the course of their entire academic year. I suspect even a self-absorbed hedonist would have trouble blowing that sort of money in a single night - unless it came with a Gucci gift bag.