Thursday, May 21, 2009

"...and we pay these people to do this to us."

There were a number of significant disappointments at last night's Community "Input" Meeting.

First, the manner in which kindergarten is being restructured to accommodate the need to reduce transportation costs just seems illogical. A rather astute member of the audience pointed out that the mind of a developing child performs best when they have five half days of instruction a week, rather than two full days and one half day with full day gaps in between. Nick Brossoit's response was that no valid or "objective" research shows this to be the case.

I will let others debate the strength of his statement but if we apply his logic, why not compress the academic week and eliminate days of instruction at all grade levels? We could save a bundle in transportation costs if we just divide five days of instruction over three. Instead of having classes from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday, we could shift the schedule to start at 7:00 am and end at 6:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Perhaps we could try a four day week first.

Another fine point raised was the long-term impact upon our community when programs like music and athletics are cut from district programming. Music students tend to perform better academically (I am not saying that I agree, just relaying what was stated) and without athletic programming, students may wander the streets looking for ways to expend their pent up energy. It seems like a reasonable conclusion to draw that these students will drift from legitimate academic interests and start delving into areas that may not be in the best interest of our society.

Slashing transportation for students attending additional study sessions seems like a tough call to make. On the one hand, the District wants to leave the impression that they care about academic achievement, but on the other hand, they don't want to spend resources supporting the needs of a few students.

One significant blunder that surfaced last night was the total lack of real community input prior to compiling the presented list of program cuts. For instance, the District wants to increase rates for students that want to get involved in after school sports, but then they remove entire programs without considering the impact of their own proposed increase in fees. One activity in particular, which seems heavily weighted toward one specific gender, is the drill team. The District already contributes very little to support this activity and the various drill teams already raise a lot of money. Clearly, such programs are being targeted because their members will become outraged and just raise more money. Our community is being manipulated.

Take the swimming program, for instance. The District wants to "suspend" all swimming activities for one year. As a member of the audience pointed out, there are probably several students hoping to obtain an athletic scholarship for their swimming performance and "suspending" the program for one year would put next year's seniors at risk of losing an opportunity to reduce future tuition expenses. The benefit to the District would be a one time savings of $20,000.00 and yet a single student could receive much more than that amount in a single scholarship over their college career. Even a young man tapped as his school's swim captain next year chimed in.

One rather interesting development is the District's plan to revert their superintendent structure back to how it was before. While our community may be dazzled by the gesture, I would be willing to bet that, in typical district fashion, titles will change but rates of pay will not.

The District currently has seven superintendents. They are as follows:
Nick Brossoit, Ken Limon, Ellen Kahan, Sue Venable, Marla Miller, Debby Carter and Tony Byrd.

Each assistant is paid no less than $136,000.00 plus benefits and allowances. Their real impact upon the District's budget is probably closer to $180,000.00. The Superintendent is paid more than $208,000.00 and his real impact upon the budget is probably closer to $260,000.00. There is also a planned increase in pay of 7% which merely adds insult to financial injury.

I would be willing to bet that while these people may find themselves with different titles (along with the associated costs for changing stationery and business cards), their salaries will be untouched and, in fact, will likely continue on their obscene, upward trajectory.

Nick also mentioned a report generated by ESD189 suggesting that the Edmonds School District is understaffed in administration. Upon closer evaluation of the points they attempt to make, the assessment is entirely misleading and absolutely useless. One cannot determine the appropriate level of staffing based solely upon the total impact of administration salaries. Any grade school student would understand that you can continue to increase the salaries of assistant superintendents as long as there is a comparable decrease in the gross salaries of every other employee in administration. Essentially, the District is paying a select few number of employees an ever increasing salary, while expecting the remaining staff to battle over what remains. Of course, no actual battles will ensue because they are just far too busy doing all of the real work. If the District actually gets rid of a number of these highly-paid administrators, there would be enough to hire on additional staff to manage the real work that needs to be completed.

And of course, Marla and Nick were careful to point out that the comments and concerns expressed by attendees will not necessarily amount to any real adjustments to their grand scheme. The District didn't bother to legitimately engage the community before slashing vital programs, why would they ever start listening now?


Anonymous said...

Maybe Administration should check the front page of today's Herald. The Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials voted to put a freeze on all elected state officials, including the Governor, for the next two years. Doesn't the Citizens' Planning Commitee still exist? Wouldn't that be part of planning, restricting bloated salaries? Maybe if people started writing to their local papers, it would bring this travesty to the public eye!

Anonymous said...

Nick is not elected and neither are is six hand maidens. Their salaries will continue to flow unabated.

There is no way Marla will take less money as an Executive Director, unless her friends start offering a commission on all of the questionable deals she directs their way.

Anonymous said...

7%? Is this documented somewhere, so that it can be brought up?

Other state employees have lost their COLAs and step increases. (Those who still have their jobs, anyway) Even when COLAs are paid, it's usually from 1.6% - 2.5%. 3% if it's a really, really good year. Even then, the union dues, retirement, and health care goes up, so you're actually down in net earnings, while paying more taxes.

I'd love to get a 7% boost ... especially on $200,000.

Please let us know where this is documented.

Richard Reuther said...

Don't expect the local paper to do anything. We took our story to them and, after preliminary interest by the reporter, higher ups decided that it was a "he said, she said" situation and refused to get involved. For whatever reason, the reporter failed to personally return our materials to us, leaving them at the front desk for us to pick up. It was as if they were too hot to handle. Little wonder they are going out of business if they can no longer serve the needs of the community.

Anonymous said...

So the Tech. Dept. is buying IPODS for employees. Is that a cost savings for the district. My tax $$'s being used for I Pod's. I can't afford one $200. + for one. Please stop the cazy lady in the Tech. dept. She wanted to stop US Mail but now is buying I Pods she's nuts! Tell me how necessary is this equipment for these employees including a Secretary. If this is my levy $'s I will never vote for the Tech Levy again! What a wait of our tax monies.

Public employee of the Edmonds school District said...

Just do a public request on all raises for the last 5 years. Its all there for you ,me and all our friends to read.
I'll give you all a example of a "Public request or Public disclosure"


I public employee of the Edmonds School District or your name, would request public records of all raises from all mangers, Dept heads to the superintendent for the last 5 years and please put the percentage of raises to, just for the fun of it. I would like you Marla to show all employees of the Edmonds School District these raises.

Agian, Thank you!

Trans Gal said...

What I would like to know is who determines their salaries? What or who gives them the authority to give themselves raises? Is it the school board? If so, I'm surprised that they haven't been brought to task for this and shame on anyone who hasn't attended a meeting and brought this up, myself included. I firmly believe if everyone who has a concern over this matter attended the next board meeting on June 2nd, they just might feel intimidated enough to think twice about what they do with taxpayers money!! And if they fail to do anything, it will be remembered at election time. Geesh, I'm getting heartburn just thinking of all this. I've been with the district over 20 years and never thought much about administrators' salaries. That's because past administrators were doing their job and didn't flaunt their salaries while the rest of us are worrying about our benefits and job security.

Anonymous said...

I heard that principals voted for a pay freeze and a freeze on their professional development stipend, don't know about district admin.

Anonymous said...

What is the reasoning for purchasing I-Pods for school employees? I assume they would only be purchased for the "upper-crust" employees at the "Head Shed". I urge, once again, those retired former employees, senior or disabled citizens, to apply for Property Tax Exemption, which includes school levies, special levies. If your income is under 35,000, you can qualify for exemption from the excessive spending by Edmonds School District Administrators. I , personally, qualify, and this is my satisfaction that my tax dollars are NOT going to pay the outragious salaries for Marla Miller, Nick B., and all the other unnecesary Assistant Superintendents. If my tax dollars were going to educate KIDS, I would gladly pay my property taxes in FULL. For more information about tax relief for seniors, call the Snohomish County Assessor's Office at 425-388-3433, and they will send you the application. The e-mail address is: