After Heated Exchange, Trustee Pay Reduced by $50

Parents and Capistrano Unified's school board members question the political motivations of opposing and supporting a pay cut for trustees.

Exchanges at the Board of Trustee meeting got heated Monday when parents and trustees started questioning the motives behind a discussion to eliminate school board members’ stipends.

Trustee John Alpay said because staff was having a hard time calculating a pay decrease he first successfully proposed in June, he thought it would be easier to set a flat number, or even ditch the monthly paycheck altogether.

Trustee pay is set by board policy at $750 a month but was reduced in half in February 2008. It has not been adjusted since.

Three dads, who came to the meeting in a group of 10, spoke to the trustees, telling them that their priorities in discussing a cut in compensation were misplaced.

Parent Jared Wall called the discussion “very ill-timed, seeing that it’s 60 days before the election.” He noted a bigger concern is the number of days eliminated from the school calendar this year, which includes 45 minimum days.

“I didn’t have 45 minimum days my entire school career combined,” Wall said. “I just don’t feel that my kids have that same chance right now, and it’s ridiculous.”

While the effort to decrease trustee stipends appears to be a “decent gesture,” said dad Jevin Ferguson, he finds it “deceitful” in light of .

Ferguson is campaign manager for one of Alpay’s opponents, Steve Lang, in his race for re-election.

Trustee Sue Palazzo declared the whole thing a "circus,” but then Trustee Lynn Hatton and President Gary Pritchard said it was Palazzo who was making a political speech.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a trustee to attack another trustee on the dais,” Hatton said.

Palazzo is retiring from the board in November, but she has publicly endorsed two candidates challenging Alpay and President Gary Pritchard. She accused Alpay of flip-flopping on the issue and spending more time on trustee compensation than .

“This is the same trustee who, with the cooperation of the board president, shut down discussion of both the teachers’ contract agenda item and in June,” she said. “Way too much time has been spent on trustee stipends by this board and staff. What kind of example is this board setting?”

In the end, the board voted 7-0 to reduce trustee pay by $50, to $325.

“We need to show solidarity with our employees,” Alpay said.

fact checker September 14, 2012 at 07:27 AM
None of the things I suggested take any time outside of the home except for parent conferences. Many parents who work long hours find time to attend 2 conferences a year. It is a matter of setting priorities. How would those parents who have no time to devote to attending school events find time to research schools and how would they get their children to those schools? Vouchers would not help them. In CUSD, which is what we are all discussing here, there is no need for them to do so.
fact checker September 14, 2012 at 07:34 AM
Teachers in charter schools are free to join a union in Arizona as well as California. I really have no idea what you are referring to as a liberal agenda. And what minority few are favored above the value of the whole? What special privileges are given?
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Fact checker Assuming you adhere to your moniker, you know that the state doesn't recall count the number of days in school but rather, the amount of instructional minutes provided to students. From what I have been able to gather, OPA students get more instructional minutes than most, if not all similarly situated students in CUSD.
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Since everyone pays taxes, including the poor, there is no need to increase taxes to fund a gov't that grossly waste our tax dollars and refuses to takes needed steps to enact a truly balanced budget. The zeal of the majority in Sacramento is to spend, spend, spend, reality and the economy is mind boggling..
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 07:40 PM
fact checker Ask I'llpay how he gamed the system to get his kid in Las Palmas.
shelly September 14, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Capo Parent, In case you missed it the economy tanked and Sacramento has had to continually cut programs including education.
shelly September 14, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Capo Parent, Why don't you ask Trustee Alpay if you are curious? And why the name calling. It seems to me that if we truly want to have a dialog then the insulting tactics of silly nicknames on both sides should be dropped. Is this what we should teach our children. To insult and name call instead of dialog.
shelly September 14, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Capo Parent, In case you missed it the economy tanked and Sacramento has had to continually cut programs including education.
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:08 PM
fact checker The clamor for school choice is becoming stronger and louder each year due to the failure of traditional public education to meet the needs of many, much less all. We really don't know what effect school choice can truly have because almost all school choice options are bitterly opposed by teachers union. For example, AB 1172 and the unions fight against parents who try to use the parent trigger law. See: http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2012/09/no-hollywood-ending-yet-for-this-real-life-parent-trigger-saga/ http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-13/in-california-public-school-parents-stage-a-coup
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Shelly Get your facts straight. Sac took roughly $7 billion from education and is now threatening education with more cuts (i.e. holding education hostage for ransom) if the voters don't vote for more taxes. Only a fool or someone who doesn't understand what is truly going on would vote to give Sac more money given its pitiful performance and its shameful grab of education funding to cover its gross overspending.
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Shelly I'llpay has worked hard to be scorned and ridiculed. Since I'llpay's gaming of the system in favor of his kid to the detriment of other families who played by the rules was broached by an affected parent at the last board meeting, one would assume I'llpay would have addressed the matter at that time given the seriousness of the charge, but he didn't. I'm waiting for I'llpay's response. In the meantime, what is it you want to ask I'llpay?
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:25 PM
fact checker What BS, the public is invvolved in negotiating contracts through their elected representatives. While that might a noble idea, the reality is much different. That's why the Brown Act was enacted because elected officials were negotiating in secret and keeping the public in the dark. Public meeting and workshops devoted to the budget ensure that the public has a voice in the budget process. The current board majority and CUSD administration went out of their way to minimize as much as they could public discussion and involvement in the budget process. Heck, Pritchard & I'llpay even conspired to muzzle Addonizio from speaking at board meeting in which the budget was being voted on.
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:35 PM
FC The teachers union insisted on up to 15 furlough days for 2 reasons. One, teachers can take up to 15 furlough days and it doesn't affect their rate of pay and the pension contributions that CUSD has to make on their behalf; and two, furlough days inflict the maximum amount of punishment on students (keeps them out of school) thus coercing parents to vote for the Brown tax increase in order to reduce the number of furlough days. That's why the teachers union would not agree to any pay cut, even one less than 2%. Even the 1.5% pay cut the union agreed to if the tax increases don't pass has to be negotiated before it can go into effect. What this really means is that there is a 1.5% on paper that the union and CUSD can point to, but there really isn't any agreement on that pay cut. So much for the concept of "shared sacrifice." For one year the teachers union could have agreed to a pay cut equal to 7 furlough days, with the number of furlough days reduced to 8 days. That might of motivated parents to vote for the tax increases even though there a number of very good reasons to not vote for them. Now there is no good reason to do so unless you like throwing money away.
shelly September 14, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Capo Parent, My facts are straight. The economy tanked and programs and education were cut. Why so angry?
shelly September 14, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Capo Parent, Is this how you teach your children to dialog with people? Just curious if it is okay with you for them to call people names who they disagree with? I think it is you who wants to ask Trustee Alpay a question. If you are curious about how his children got into Las Palmas then ask him.
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:41 PM
shelly Why do you ignore the roughly $7 billion the state has taken from education? That's 7 billion education should have even though the economy tanked. So you're willing to vote for tax increases in the hope that the entity that has taken $7 billion from education and is holding education hostage in order to coerce voters into voting for the tax increases. Logic and common sense dictate that you don't vote for tax increases under the circumstances.
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:42 PM
shelly Since you kids are thriving in CUSD it appears CUSD does not need any further revenue.
concerned parent September 14, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Fact checker, Did you somehow miss the news about OPA? That its STAR test results are among the highest of any school in the entire state? As in, higher than any other school in the district? Here's the article: http://sanclemente.patch.com/articles/controversial-charter-school-may-clock-in-with-highest-score-in-the-county
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 08:47 PM
shelly Whether you like it or not (and candidly I don't care) I'llpay deserves the scorn and ridicule he has received since that has been his MO. FYI, I don't care if I'llpay's kid attends Las Palmas, what I do care about is did he game the system to do so. I didn't make that accusation against him, a parent who attend the last board meeting who had one or more kids trying to get into Las Palmas made it. I'llpay needs to address the charge, not me.
shelly September 14, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Capo Parent, You stated, "fact checker "Ask I'llpay how he gamed the system to get his kid in Las Palmas." If you want to know then ask him. So do you teach your kids it is okay to "scorn" people? To me it seems as adults, children, people that we can all disagree and dislike one another but still treat people respectfully. It reflects on you when you do not and not on the person you target with the names. There are many people I disagree with but to calling them names is not what I want my children to learn. So you are welcome to behave how you want. i was just curious if this is how you would like your children to behave when they have disagreements? I am signing off because of the name calling and these dialogs don't seem to really go anywhere except insults. I am not going to change your mind and you are not going to change mine. It is okay to have different opinions. Have a nice weekend.
shelly September 14, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Capo parent, Not ignoring that money was taken away from education. I also not ignoring the fact that our economy was decimated by faulty loans and irresponsible business practices. Sacramento did not cause the economy to tank and either did the teachers or our district or our board of Trustees. I will vote for a tax increase.
John B. Greet September 14, 2012 at 11:37 PM
fact: Thanks. You seem to have a very narrow view of the challenging realities of raising a family in today's foundering economy. I get that you may feel that all is sunshine and roses in CUSD, but, as I said, there is an entire State and nation outside the bounds of CUSD in which tens and tens of thousands of our children are languishing in chronically failing public schools because their parents do not have the financial resources to provide a better or more suitable education curriculum for them. Public education has a far larger scope than little CUSD. Broaden your perspective a bit and deepen your knowledge about the many serious challenges that exist elsewhere. Reasonable school choice initiatives directly benefit our kids and their parents. Teachers' Unions negotiate contracts and campaign for elected officials to directly benefit only one group of people, their membership. For those interested in learning more about the benefits of reasonable school choice initiatives, please visit these great websites: http://www.edchoice.org/ http://www.allianceforschoolchoice.org/mission-and-activities http://www.voicesofschoolchoice.org/
Capo Parent September 14, 2012 at 11:42 PM
shelly You are more than free to vote yourself more taxes in the naive and misguided belief that the money will really make it to education. I can give you 7 billion reasons you'd be foolish to vote for the taxes. Moonbeam and his allies are hoping a majority of voters are like you, and that they won't look behind the curtain and see the true facts Ala The Wizard of Oz. Since you eager to give away your money, how about donating to the high speed rail debacle. Moonbeam and his allies are looking for billions to try and build this boondogle.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) September 14, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Comment deleted. CP, this is your second warning about attacking the people commenting, versus focusing on the issues raised in the article. Three strikes, and you're out.
PDub September 14, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Haha Moonbeam...thats perfect. Ya its not hard to see who is tied to the union here. that impenetrable blind wall of followers. Ya the rail is such an awesome idea to take no people from nowhere to nowhere....and take Billions away from what could be used to save struggling school districts. This is same kind of nonsense we see at the national level with Obeamo sending tax dollars to Egypt and aid to Libya and look what that did.....so i wouldnt expect much in the logical or practical to occur from the current union run board until maybe it completely collapses...then maybe some actual change will happen...not blown smoke and a few coins left in your pocket
concerned parent September 15, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Shelly, In response to "economy tanked" etc, why won't you ever address the issue of CUSD being in significantly worse (i.e. close to insolvent) shape than other comparable districts, largely because of deliberate actions taken by the majority board? For example, it's extraordinarily rare for a district to have to get a loan to cover its payroll. That should NEVER happen. So, using your logic, should teacher salaries/benefits be preserved at all costs, even if it drives the district to bankruptcy? Because it sure seems that's where we're headed these days... and even if the tax increase does pass, it does absolutely nothing to deal with the structural deficit this district faces. This is not a one-time, one-year problem. It's a systemic failure due to salaries taking too large a percentage of the budget--and that's something furlough days only address on a temporary basis. Other than the fact they directly hurt our kids' education (oh yeah--why should any of us worry about how much students are actually in class being taught?), furlough days solve nothing on a longterm basis.
fact checker September 15, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Yes I did see those scores...and they were obtained with 160 days of school. The state at that time was requiring 180. Not sure why OPA was allowed to have fewer, but it didn't seem to hurt the scores. I am not a fan of judging schools by test scores due to the shenanigans that can be a result of that. This is not a reflection on any particular school...but it happens a lot. And it goes beyond cheating on the tests. Many crucial curriculum decisions are made to encourage high test scores over a balanced emphasis which includes pedagogies that include critical and creative thinking. My comments regarding OPA are not meant to be judgmental. I know nothing about their curriculum or teaching practices except what can be read on the website and in their charter. I mention it because of the Concern expressed here that furlough days will affect school performance. It seems that is not always the case. Furlough days are one way of dealing with reduced revenues and are being used statewide. It seems that some posters here feel that teachers should bear more of the financial burden. I have repeatedly asked those who say that to post how much they would find reasonable and whether they are willing to pony up themselves to make up for the reduced revenues.
Capo Parent September 16, 2012 at 04:15 PM
FC Instead of focusing on 160 days, how about posting how many instruction minutes OPA had last year vs. other K-8 schools like Arroyo Vista.
fact checker September 16, 2012 at 04:36 PM
No need to focus on schools that are within state mandates for instructional minutes. If OPA did that with more minutes and fewer days then they satisfied the mandate. So do all other schools in CUSD. So Dawn, I think we have an answer to your question. If you need further assurance please contact the district and I am confident they will be able to address your concerns without an audit.
O Captain! My Captain! October 15, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I'm voting for Steve Lang for sure. Good businessman with no political favors to repay. (www.stevelang4cusd.com) On the other hand, check out how his opponent, John Alpay, has voted time and again to cut instruction time, increase class sizes, and waste money hurting teachers and the district. (www.whoisjohnalpay.com)


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