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CUSD Approves Teachers Contract But Not Without Fireworks

At the last minute, Trustee Jim Reardon wants to find more money in the budget to add three more school days to the year. Others call it irresponsible.

Trustee Jim Reardon's suggestion to cut more from the budget to add more school days sparks a heated discussion at the Capistrano Unified School District. Photo courtesy Jim Reardon
Trustee Jim Reardon's suggestion to cut more from the budget to add more school days sparks a heated discussion at the Capistrano Unified School District. Photo courtesy Jim Reardon

The Capistrano Unified school board OK'd a new teachers contract but not without fireworks and accusations of political opportunism.

The agreement calls for a 177-day school year (two more days than last year but less than a normal school year of 180 days), a slight decrease in class size, a 1.2 percent raise for teachers, the elimination of open house night and three days of training in the national testing standards known as Common Core.

Trustee Jim Reardon made a motion that district staff take a few more weeks to find the $2.8 million he estimated it would cost to restore a full school year.

“We are still not fully restored to 180 days. That’s the normal school year that people in our community have come to expect,” he said. “The board has the ability and power to get it done this year.”

That had fellow trustees questioning his motives.

“I can’t help but feel that this is motivated for less than altruistic reasons,” said board President John Alpay. Later, Alpay called it “political gamesmanship,” criticizing Reardon for coming up with a plan that thwarts months of negotiations “in the 11th hour.”

Reardon said he was taking aim at money outside of the teachers’ contract. District officials recently learned many of the funds which previously had rigid restrictions were suddenly freed up to be spent in any number of ways. The district should investigate their best use now, not in a year, he said.

Trustee Lynn Hatton said with only weeks before having to submit a final budget into the county Department of Education, there wouldn’t be enough time to do the kind of analysis needed. She said such programs as music and International Baccalaureate could be jeopardized from such hasty slicing and dicing.

“We will have to raid something. We have cut so much money from our staff. The only thing to cut after that is programs,” Hatton said.

Reardon responded that in a $360-million budget, staff should be able to find the $2.8 million needed somewhere.

But others said such an effort in a short period of time was unwise.

“To throw this down anybody’s throat just this fast is irresponsible,” said Trustee Amy Hanacek.

The board voted 4-3 to approve the teacher contract, with trustees Reardon, Ellen Addonizio and Anna Bryson opposed. 

Shripathi Kamath August 23, 2013 at 07:29 PM
fact checker August 23, 2013 at 07:19 PM Really Shri, I just comment here to keep my vocabulary sharp and debate skills honed. Very few people are aboard the "Those Greedy Teachers" train anymore. ______________________________________________________ Of course! Oh heck, I should have intuited that by just looking at the homogeneously isotropic constitution of the Capo USD trustee board; it'd have been so obvious. ______________________________________________________ (Wait, "homogeneously" and "isotropic"? Hey, I am not here for the vocabulary therapy, so what do I care.)
shelly August 23, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Dawn, Why do we employ teachers? What is the most essential classroom expense?
shelly August 23, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Mission Viejo Mom, Parents and taxpayers fund education. The amount that we have funded CUSD has gone down. I realize that you may feel that it is the teachers and employees responsibility to make up for the reduced funds. Teachers and employees have taken the biggest cuts since the economy tanked. Parents and community members have pitched in. I feel that we should all help. I believe that we should do what you can. If you do not want to buy your child school supplies then do not. It is not mandatory but a choice. Help or not? You choose.
shelly August 23, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Dawn, You don't like my questions? You never answer them. Why? I have asked you several times who is responsible for funding? And I have asked you why do we employ and pay teachers? Do you not consider a teacher, a principal a needed expense for our kids? Why do we compensate them? No answer? Oh, now I remember. You are not responding to me anymore. You never really did. And your camps did not offer scholarships at least that is what you told me before because I asked you that specifically at the Las Palmas lunch tables because I was concerned about the cost because many people at our school could not afford your camps.
fact checker August 23, 2013 at 08:34 PM
See Shri, you challenged me with those big words and I still can't figure out exactly what you meant. It seems my work here is not done.

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