Leadership, Are We Getting Our Money's worth?

When we ask for justification of extending and increasing the superintendent’s salary at the next board meeting, Dr. Kayrell, or one of the board members, are likely to pull out a list of the Superintendents’ salaries in Riverside’s county to show how underpaid Dr. Kayrell is.

I’ve linked to one here: About the Supe’s Salary….

But now for the rest of the story

 I was going to post excerpts from a Press Enterprise Article that was published March 2, 2009 that described what other Superintendents and school districts were doing to share the sacrifices they were asking their teachers, classified employees and kids to make. This was during the same time when BUSD held a large public forum regarding our budget crisis.

When I tried to select key comments, I found the entire article was too important to pick out key points so I’ve posted it in its entirety below. Here is a link to the article by Melanie Johnson:

Some Inland schools administrators use furloughs, cash donations to cut own pay


 I’d like the board to consider the leadership the other Superintendents’ and school districts showed during the crisis and provide me any evidence that our Superintendent exhibited similar leadership.


04:28 PM PST on Monday, March 2, 2009 


The weeks leading up to the Fontana school board's Feb. 23 vote to issue 380 preliminary layoff notices to teachers, nurses and others -- and the days that followed -- proved tough for Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks.

Olsen-Binks, who became Fontana Unified's superintendent in July, said she has lost some pounds and shed more than a few tears in dealing with statewide cuts to education funding that total more than $8 billion.

Agonizing over state funding reductions and layoffs has prompted Olsen-Binks and a number of other Inland school district administrators to give up some of their pay in the form of furlough days or cash donations.

Olsen-Binks, who earns $195,000 a year, offered to give up five days in her contract. She will work those days but not get paid.

Rialto Unified School District's deputy superintendent and two assistant superintendents each gave up three contract days.

That action was taken the same night the school board voted to cut three to 19 days from the work year for 51 positions ranging from administrative secretaries to directors to supervisors in maintenance and nutrition.

Corona-Norco Superintendent Kent L. Bechler plans to donate $50,000 of his $250,000 salary to his district, giving back $25,000 each year for the next two years.

Murrieta schools officials are weighing a proposal for 5 percent pay cuts for administrators and managers, along with possible 5 percent cuts to board members' stipends. The Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District's management team will take five furlough days.

Olsen-Binks said the decision to furlough herself came after she heard about the governor's now-scrapped proposal to shorten the school year by five days. She said she felt she could help her district cut costs by giving up days.

"If you're the top leader, like my title says I am, you have to lead by example," she said. "It was not anything where I expected others to follow suit. I felt like it was something I needed to do."

A couple of Fontana school board members have inquired about possibly donating their stipends to the district, she said.

A 'simple thing'

Bechler, who has been with Corona-Norco about 18 months, said he wasn't looking for accolades when he volunteered to take a pay cut at a February school board meeting.

He said one of the values of leadership is helping others and that is what he hopes to work out with the district. Bechler said his goal is to develop a fund to assist employees struggling financially.

"It's a very simple thing," he said. "I know that these are extraordinary times. I know we have a number of people who are hurting."

Bill Hedrick, president of the Corona-Norco school board, said that when Bechler voluntarily took the 10 percent salary cut, the district was looking at possibly asking employees to take furlough days and pay reductions.

"It certainly was a gracious and generous donation to the district," Hedrick said. "I was not expecting it. It was not ostentatious. It was matter-of-fact."

Hedrick, who also is president of the Rialto Education Association, said the use of furloughs is expected to be common statewide as districts struggle to retain employees in tight economic times.

Those in leadership positions who step up to cut days promote a sense of solidarity, he said.

"It's difficult to ask employees to make sacrifices if administrators are not willing to do the same," he said.

Everyone hit

Julie White, a spokeswoman for the Association of California School Administrators, said that with cuts to education so deep and about 85 percent of district budgets made up of personnel costs, the economic crisis hits everybody.

School districts have had to find creative ways to cut costs, including furloughs, White said.

"People who work in public education do it from the heart," she said. "People are coming together and saying, 'What can we do to protect the students?' "

Rialto Unified Deputy Superintendent Joseph Davis and Assistant Superintendents Anna Rodriguez and Gail Mathews agreed to reduce their contracts by three days.

"The top leadership sat down and said we had to lead the way," Davis said. "If our people had to do it, then we should do it, too."

Other administrators have had their work year reduced by anywhere from three to 20 days, Davis said. That's why district administrators needed to contribute, he said.

"If we all just give a little, then it can save some of our own people," he said.