At last week's board meeting, the board had a first reading of another board policy and all I can say is... Here we go again.
The policy ammendment has to do with the stipends the district pays certain employees for their cell phone usage. As a result of the addition of a new management position, the Theater Manager, the district's 3 tier cell phone rate schedule has to be updated to include the new position. This seemed to be a simple straight forward policy ammendment but Mrs. Poulter took the opportunity to question the policy of providing an annual stipend to reimburse employees for their personal cell phone expense. The annual stipend starts at $360 for Tier I employees and goes as high as $1,200 a year for Tier III, cabinet members.
Mrs. Poulter argued that employees should be responsible for their own cell phone expenses. She believes all the employees would have a personal cell phone even without a stipend. She didn't believe that the business expense warranted the stipend considering the budget cuts facing the district. She wants to keep as many cuts away from the classrooms as possible and believes this is an area that will be considered for cuts in the near future. Mrs. Poulter believes the stipend should be eliminated all together. I agree 100%.
This policy ammendment doesn't appear to be an increase in the current stipend and since the primary beneficiaries of the policy is the district's upper management, it is highly unlikely Mrs. Poulter proposal to eliminate the stipend will be taken seriously by the administration's board majority.
What I find very revealing is the pattern of discussion. This has become all too familiar and predictable.
- Mrs. Poulter effectively argued her position.
- Mr. Orozco suggested that there could be some reduction in the stipend amount.
- Mrs. Lara tried to support the administration's and cabinet's position but she struggled to establish a defensable position. She reminded us that the district used to provide cell phones and the stipend was a cost saving measure. I am sure at the next meeting she will tell us how she researched how much other districts are paying their employees for their cell phone usage and that we are in line with our neighbors.
- Mr. Hackney and Mrs. De Longchamp were, once again, silent. We'll probably only hear them speak when they say "Aye" to approve the policy ammendment, during the next board meeting, once again pleasing the administration.
I'm not sure this is the kind of transaprency we need.