This morning I am struggling. After last night's meeting I can't decide the best title for this post. I am torn between "BUSD Are You Smarter Than A Second Grader?" or "It's What They Don't Say That Scares Me."
I often ask my second grader, "Hey Caitlin, what are you doing?" I know what she is doing, she may be playing on the computer or doing her homework but most often she will say "Nothing." Then I ask her why she wouldn't tell me what she was really up to. I tell her she isn't really being honest and she has nothing to hide. "Nothing" seems to be an automatic response for her and I am sure she just doesn't want to be bothered with any interference from me.
Last night I felt I was watching my 2nd grader. Here's a few examples why:
After the board was criticized by another parent, Heather Lewis, for increasing the assistant superintendents' compensation through step increases, Mr. Sanchez asked Assistant Superintendent Mr. Hovey to explain step increases. If you remember, Mr. Sanchez was the person who asked this same parent at the last board meeting if she had actually seen the new or existing contracts. This time she had compared the contracts and was well aware of the two major changes, step increases and district reimbursement of the supes' retirement contributions.
After Mr. Hovey's explanation of step increases, one would believe that there was nothing new in the contract, there was no discussion of the reimbursement of the retirement contributions. The step increases were not a part of the old contract. Why did Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Hovey feel it was necessary to lead us to believe they were? More importantly, why didn't Mr. Sanchez ask a clarifying question about the retirement contribution? It's what they're not saying that should worry us.
The next example came during Mrs. Kakish's budget presentation. Near the end of the presentation she told the board that the Budget Review Committee was considering many of the same cuts we considered last year. This is not true. We haven't had any time to consider anything. At the first meeting we threw out some ideas but they were never discussed. The only options we've discussed in our two meetings are the ones Mrs. Kakish and the administration wants us to focus on, pay cuts and layoffs for everyone but upper management.
Finally, both Mrs. Kakish and Dr. Kayrell worked the audience on the next issue. All year we have been hearing Mrs. Kakish promise stability in the district for this year and next. She has explained to us, more than a few times, that the administration wasn't planning any cuts to personnel this year or next. Dr. Kayrell has been present most of the times I've heard this claim and never questioned or clarified Kakish's promise. Now, when it is obvious to everyone that we can't wait two years to make cuts, we hear that the promise had a condition. The condition, "as long as the budget assumptions didn't change."
It's not enough for this group to be honest with us and tell us something we all know, budget assumptions always change. Mrs. Kakish even made the comment last night that budgets are "always a moving target". We know cuts need to be made sooner rather than later. We all knew they never should have been making statements/promises they knew they could never live up to. But last night you could see the spin begin.
In the BRC meeting last week, Kakish told us that Dr. Kayrell now believes the district shouldn't wait for the next round of cuts. We heard Kakish and Kayrell explain to the BRC about how the changing assumptions were always a condition of the stability promise. But last night Dr. Kayrell explained the situation a little different. He told the crowd that the BRC was now beginning to realize the inevitability of immediate cuts. Anyone who has been watching this show for the last two years knows what's going on, they are looking to shift blame for the cuts to the BRC.
I have the same question for Dr. Kayrell and Mrs. Kakish that I ask my daughter. Why not be honest about the things we all know are true? Are they smarter than a second grader?