From reader Barry Savin:
I read the article about the upcoming elections and thought I would give an opposing opinion on the BOE\School Board elections.
I found it interesting that the same slanted info used against Ms. Spencer was
also used in another article by Ms. Barnes which was immediately disavowed by the Alameda Times Star.
This sounds like someone behind the scenes is spreading inaccurate info to get the old BOE re-elected.
Both these opinions said they would vote for the present members of the BOE without giving any specific reasons. I am not saying I disagree with everything the BOE does or that I agree with Ms. Spencer all the time, but I have watched too many hours of the BOE meetings where Ms. Spencer was the only member to question or disagree with the superintendent.
The BOE is suppose to lead AUSD, not just rubber stamp anything the superintendent wants.
There are numerous reasons for a new BOE and the first is the ridiculous contract that Mr. Mooney and Ms. Sherrat negotiated with the superintendent.
With the budget being so tight, Mooney and the BOE gave the superintendent and the top five paid administrators a three percent raise for three straight years.
The superintendent also got full health insurance of her choice, 30 days vacation, a buy out clause and $15,000 in potential bonus pay based on things like having students with 96 percent attendance raise their attendance 3 percent.
The BOE and superintendent talk a lot about transparency yet neither mention
the official report by WJE that stated historic Alameda High School needed affordable upgrades and was not a danger to the employees or public. Yet the BOE at the behest of the superintendent voted to spend millions of dollars in rent and costs to move to a new complex dubbed the palace.
In direct conflict with Measure A, our BOE has not spent a dime to lower class sizes nor to retain and attract highly-qualified teachers.
Alameda teachers are the second lowest paid in the entire county. AUSD
class size went up to 25:1 and 32:1 at the same time losing over 100 teachers in the last few years.
The BOE and superintendent hired a full-time labor lawyer who doesn't have an
educational law background. She and her full time assistant cost over $250,000 a year.
This does not include the over $200,000 spent over the last two years on outside lawyers to do basic district services.
AUSD is the only district of our size we can find in California to have a full time lawyer. Why isn't the BOE dealing with this?
The BOE and superintendent don't mention that AUSD has $20,700,000 in
unrestricted funds. State law says three percent in reserves (about $3,000,000
for AUSD). Why isn't our present BOE spending our tax money on our students and teachers?
The BOE is letting the superintendent spend $5,000 dollars a case on arbitration for teachers' grievances (over 65 at this time) while not bothering to settle them at an informal level. They skip (free) mediation and go straight to arbitration. This year alone could cost us taxpayers $50-75,000.
We pass Measure A, AUSD has a $20,700,000 in unrestricted reserves and
how does our BOE use it? What do the taxpayers get for our investment? A fence around Alameda High School, a new office building for the
administration, three percent raises for three straight years for the five Highest paid administrators, zero increase in teacher pay and larger class sizes.
I will be voting for Ms. Spencer, Barbara Kahn and Jon Murphy because the Board of Education/School Board is too important to our community to continue in the same old direction. Alameda needs a BOE that will lead us in a positive and open manner.
Ms. Spencer has already shown her independence. With Ms. Kahn's well known local activism and Mr. Murphy's work and educational budget experience, I know Alameda will be getting quality leaders who will ask the important questions.