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Silenced CUSD Trustees Speak Out

Blocked from commenting on budget-related items at the last board meeting, two Capo Unified trustees give the majority an earful Monday

Two trustees shut out from discussing two budget-related items at their last meeting took four of their counterparts to task Monday night for drowning out a minority voice.

“It was wrong to suppress discussion by all members of the board,” said Trustee Sue Palazzo, reading from notes. Addressing President Gary Pritchard directly, she added: “How dare you put a veil of secrecy over this institution, which is responsible for the education of 48,000 students. How dare you abuse the power we entrusted to you.”

At the June 27 meeting, before it began in earnest. On both topics – and the itself – Pritchard called for a vote on Alpay’s motions, . Trustee Anna Bryson joined Palazzo and Trustee Ellen Addonizio in dissenting.

Pritchard declared the motions successful, even though . 

Addonizio also commented Monday about Pritchard’s governance. In remarks made before the board addressed the evening’s agenda, she said the trustees “forced a vote" without full board consideration. 

“My constituents pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and they have the right to know how their public dollars are being spent,” Addonizio said.

She asked that a number of concerns she had about the budget be added to the next agenda, among them:

  • Why the budget includes a cost-of-living adjustment which officials say is not likely to come from the state
  • Deficit spending
  • District borrowing
  • Which educational programs will be eliminated and what steps are being taken to mitigate that impact
  • An explanation of why as many as 15 furlough days may be cut from the school calendar

There was no reaction from other trustees.

Later in the meeting, Superintendent Joseph Farley said, “No one likes the ideas of any of these changes we have to make because of unprecedented budget issues.”

He said he was had been working all day on a community letter that will explain the budget cuts and related decisions.

cusd mom July 10, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Thank you Ellen and Pam for speaking up for us parents and kids!!!!!!!!!!
cusd mom July 10, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Sorry Penny, I meant Sue.....haven't had my coffee yet:)
concerned parent July 10, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Yes, thank you to both trustees for having the courage to do what's right. The education of our children is too important for these items to be approved without debate or discussion. The fact that there were no answers given on the questions raised is very telling. How outrageous that these cuts were made with no apparent understanding of how they're going to affect our kids. How can ANYONE defend this?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) July 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Well, they're not really supposed to discuss items not on the agenda. The remarks came during the "board and superintendent comments" portion of the agenda, which usually don't have responses.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) July 10, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I should add, occasionally there is reaction, something to the effect of, "Let's get this on the agenda." But there's no involved discussion.
Lon Uso July 10, 2012 at 06:00 PM
This is uncosinable, it is un-American. Are there not 7 people in the CUSD district that can govern as individuals, disagree respectfully, and follow the law? Not allowing discussion on the budget is not only illegal but amoral. Passing a budget without discussion smacks of back room deals and Brown Act violations. You are making the guys you recalled look good. Lon Uso
concerned parent July 10, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Yep, well I guess there was a perfect time for that discussion to have taken place, right? As in, before the budget/contracts were passed. But that didn't happen, and it apparently never will.
Coach V July 10, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I am no politician....yet if the board, all members, are not there to input their imperical data, discussions and studies....then why have 7. If only a couple of level trustees are to have say so....then have only a couple. That way, we pay less for trustees. If their paid. On the other hand, I don't know the rules of the CUSD board of trustees function/s. Just a thought. :)
Penny Arévalo (Editor) July 10, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Hi Coach V. The seven trustees are accountable to the voters. It is their fiduciary responsibility to maintain the financial integrity of the district and their duty to maintain the educational integrity of the district. They hire and fire the superintendent. The district is quite large, stretching from San Clemente to Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and Aliso Viejo. The trustees represent specific geographic areas. By state law, they can't make more than $750 a month, although for the past few years, they've been getting half that. How that changes with the amended motion to approve the 2012-13 budget (in which Trustee John Alpay moved that trustee salaries would reflect the same pay cuts as employees -- which are not at 50 percent), I don't know.
Coach V July 11, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Penny........cool. TY for the education.
Capo Parent July 11, 2012 at 09:39 PM
This is what you get when a union has undue power and influence. Remember the bold claims of the teachers union and Union First aka Children First that Alpay, Hatton and Pritchard would be open, honest and transparent, and would usher in a new era of "cooperation." Almost 2 years later we now know they are not open, honest or transparent, and their idea of "cooperation" is to give the teachers union whatever it wants. They have raided basically every fund in CUSD and have driven CUSD to altar of fiscal insolvency. We can't afford another year of these clowns, especially with CUSD having to cut roughly $30 million even if Moonbeam's taxes pass.
Shripathi Kamath July 11, 2012 at 10:14 PM
It is an extreme outrage that they are not even elected officials. If only people of CUSD could vote for their trustees instead of having Commie (<- cannot forget that) Moonbeam appoint them before he himself was appointed governor by Nobama, it would be paradise! Death to Unions?
cusd mom July 11, 2012 at 11:35 PM
http://missionviejoca.org/html/entireissue22.html Alpay must have been thinking about the board's pay for awhile. Check out the email he sent to Farley over a year ago.
Yeparoo July 12, 2012 at 12:26 AM
I don't see how conducting business in private helps the 4 trustees that railroaded the budget through. Even if at the end of the day the approach taken with furlough days and layoffs were the only solution, that needed to be discussed in public in advance of the decisions made. Assuming Prop 30 passes, it is not designed to return all the monies cut from this year's budget. Projections are $4.8b - $7.9b will be raised. CA is assuming the BEST case scenario of $8b of taxes will be collected and that is suppose to restore $700m back to schools. I'm guessing Prop 30 won't pass, but even if it does, the funds being restored to schools could be a much lower number. Add to the that the new debt servicing of the train bond issue, the additional monies CA will spend on Medi-Cal expansion under ACA (Arnold assumed $2B-$3B per year) and the mid-term pension shortfall of $132B over the next 10 years and I would anticipate next year, the year after and the following years will continue to cut education. It would be nice if the CTA would really stand up for education and get realistic with budget priorities at the state level. Maybe help the politicians realize education can't take these cuts to balance their state level budgets. CA has wasted the last year and a half since Gov Brown was elected waiting for the holy grail of tax increases to save them. Time to get spending priorities straight and stop taking it out on teachers and kids.
Shripathi Kamath July 12, 2012 at 04:28 AM
"I don't see how conducting business in private helps the 4 trustees that railroaded the budget through" If it does not help them, it makes no sense that they would knowingly commit political suicide, so why do you think they did it? "Add to the that the new debt servicing of the train bond issue" High speed rail is funded largely by the feds, so that is not quite an issue. "It would be nice if the CTA would really stand up for education and get realistic with budget priorities at the state level." Maybe we should demonize them some more to win them over! As I see it, there are three basic approaches the trustees can take: 1. Bludgeon the unions. 2. Cave in to them 3. Negotiate with them. The unions will not be bullied, so the trustees you elect have to be practical, shrewd negotiators, and looking to negotiate rather than bludgeon the unions OR cave in to them. 3. takes the most competence/people skills. Until we the voters recognize and elect such people, we will flounder angrily between 1 and 2, till the decision becomes automatic. CA has lost revenues, and will face cuts unless we save ourselves in the short term through tax increases/something unspecified. That is a short term measure, but there is NOTHING else save blame- and flame- throwing. The unions will not give in, and squeezing the unions will not make progress. There needs to be negotiation, it can work, look at how MV handled their pension liabilities.
Justme July 12, 2012 at 06:42 AM
please explain how MV handled their pension liabilities...
bbq July 12, 2012 at 07:15 AM
Shrip said, "High speed rail is funded largely by the feds, so that is not quite an issue." How do you figure that? From what I've read, the rail project is now estimated to be $68B, with $3.2B coming from the federal government, $10B in bonds and the remainder unknown. As far as the trustees vs. the CTA goes, I vote for #1.
Shripathi Kamath July 12, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I made it up. Wait, no, I read it in the commie rag LAT: "The federal government, which is providing most of the money for the project, had threatened to rescind funding if the Legislature did not authorize funds this month." (http://lat.ms/M4YnLy) "As far as the trustees vs. the CTA goes, I vote for #1." [Keels over in shock!] NO, really?
Coach V July 12, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Capo Parent....I couldn't agree more. The inconsistency in which this district conducts "our" educational system.....is a seroius threat to: #1. our children (students) #2. parents ( especially our single parent families, whom could truly use a system they could rely on and be able to carry their already difficult job of being a single parent home) #3. teachers ( the honest to goodness "real" dedicated/concerned teachers) #4. community ( to be a united, happy, satisfied, community) #5. OUR WALLETS ( oh is this ever important) Of course, not necessarily in this order!! Once again my fellow community.....I am no politician.....maybe I have too much time on my hands? NOT. We better and should be very concerned. ;)
Shripathi Kamath July 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Huh? I typed a whole response, and it disappeared. One more try: You will need to look at the city council meetings around May of last year, and I cannot do the numbers full justice here. Briefly, they negotiated - a small pay raise for the city employees that they had not received a couple of years - tied future raises to the revenues (sales, property taxes) the city will collect - reduced pension contribution for future hires - increased employee's share of the contribution to their pension, - added a separate voluntary 401K plan so that the employee can contribute more (do not know if this went thru at the end) I can look up the details, but then so can anyone else. Someone less lazier than me. http://bit.ly/M4ZVp6 Item 21 IIRC, the unfunded pension liabilities were between 8-10 million, and the city has reserves about 25+ million or so. So they took action before it was too late, and did so with negotiations that everybody felt they gave a little, and got a little without bludgeoning or bullying or hostage-taking.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) July 12, 2012 at 03:52 PM
It's pretty off topic, but as of right now, we're going to get $3.5 billion in federal stimulus money. The project is expected to be MUCH more (right now, about $60 billion for a lesser version than what voters approved, according to an Anderson Cooper piece on CNN). Whether the feds will pitch in more eventually, I don't think we know yet (but I think CA lawmakers are probably hoping.)
cusd mom July 12, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Whoever wrote that article for the LA Times obviously made a mistake. The Feds are only giving CA 3 billion dollars. The train is going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.....They will have to take that money from schools, police, etc.
Shripathi Kamath July 12, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Remember that Voldemort turned down his funding over the strenuous objections of his Republican legislature in Florida. About half the states are clamoring for those funds, yeas including the ones railing (<- note clever pun) against Nobama's train to nowhere. I suspect that a big chunk of it will now get diverted to our beloved Pelosiland, which kinda explains the rush to get a state funding bill through. Secondly, the point was not whether the high speed rail is a good thing, bad thing, or whether we should do it because it will cost 80 b, rather, whether the tax increases in Nov 2012, if they come to pass will be siphoned off for this portion of the rail project. What I am pointing out is that a large chunk of the *approved* rail project funding (at least that has been approved thus far) is either already through Prop 1A bonds or funded by Nobama. All the Senate bill did was appropriate that. Without it, the Prop 1A funds would be in limbo, and CA would have lost the federal share. Now, an argument can be made that Prop 1A funds could have been appropriated for education (I do not know if that is possible legislatively, but legislators usually find a way). Weigh that against whether we want to create jobs and infrastructure and spur some economic activity, and we could have a new topic to rail against.
Shripathi Kamath July 12, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Yes, commie rags are not to be trusted. They leave out things like Prop 1A, which was for, wait high-speed rail? What? Californians approved it in 2008? Surely must be the commie cities of that Pelosi area. But hey, what's this? Irvine, Anaheim, Orange , OCTA (http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/prop1A.aspx) "The train is going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars" Gee, I hope we get more than one train for that kinda money, but what was approved was only *one* phase, just so that they get federal funds. Not "hundreds of billions of dollars".
bbq July 12, 2012 at 10:57 PM
SK, I still don't get where the federal government is funding the majority of the project. The latest I read in the LA Times is that the project will cost about $68B and the feds are funding $3.2B. ??????
Shripathi Kamath July 12, 2012 at 11:27 PM
You do realize that they have not yet authorized funding for the whole $ 68 b project, but have done so for just one section? If you had read the LAT, you would have found what exactly has the CA legislature approved, how much Prop 1A authorized to be raised, how much of that is being being used for the high-speed rail, how much the feds would chip in, etc. (http://lat.ms/M4YnLy) "The bill included $5.9 billion — about $3.2 billion in federal money already committed and $2.6 billion in state bond funds — for the section of track from Madera to Bakersfield." I have also elaborated on more fed funds coming from Florida's rejection as well above.
bbq July 13, 2012 at 05:39 AM
"You do realize that they have not yet authorized funding for the whole $ 68 b project, but have done so for just one section?" Yes, just ONE SECTION. "The bill included $5.9 billion — about $3.2 billion in federal money already committed and $2.6 billion in state bond funds — for the section of track from Madera to Bakersfield." Whoo, hoo - MADERA TO BAKERSFIELD!!! 3.2B - NOT the majority covered by the federal government. "I have also elaborated on more fed funds coming from Florida's rejection as well above" - Wow, glad you KNOW that we will be the recipients of Florida's rejected funds. Why don't you run for governor or (better yet) for the CUSD board? You seem to be all-knowing of the ins and outs of all things government {bows down and kisses hand while reciting, "I am not worthy."}
Shripathi Kamath July 13, 2012 at 06:26 AM
Really, all you had to do was read. Still, better late than never. bye bye!
bbq July 13, 2012 at 07:36 AM
"Really, all you had to do was read. Still, better late than never. bye bye!" Say what??? Huh??? You make no sense and if you are challenged you immediately try to end the exchange with a "bye bye."

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