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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Chaos Reigns

Theme: Drink


DS2 and I sharing a drink at Disneyland about sixteen years ago. I think there's a resemblance there. He's 25 now, almost 6'8", hair darker than mine in this pic. Lovely man. I'm very proud of him (and his older brother, too!)

To my family, I apologize. Things have been crazy and I haven't been posting here much.

If you're popping in for the Photo Hunt or any stitchery news, welcome, thanks for coming by and you may want to move on, now. I'm going to vent for a while.

First, it's grades time. I've never quite conquered the "timely return of papers." Every time I give students a "quick" assignment to practice something, they snap it out in ten minutes. But because there are 175 of them, they take forever to process and the next day there's another set. Figure in being sick for three weeks and I had a real mess. Anyway, I finally got everything graded and in the computer. I only have to add one extra-credit grade and can calculate finals and enter them into the district system Tuesday.

I hope.

The second piece of chaos is that our school district has entered into the "let's screw the teachers again" part of their annual program. The background to the story is that, while we live in the most expensive community in our county (a mortgage broker told me two years ago to hold onto my house because we are becoming the new Santa Barbara), our employee salaries and benefits are the worst in the county (salaries are 10% lower than the next lowest and health benefits practically non existent). Our lousy superintendent resigned (thank goodness) and they hired an interim superintendent (National Sup't of the Year, retired) who came in, took one look at the district and slapped the Board around for letting the district get into a position where, now, teachers don't apply to work here, our principals are brand new graduates looking for something on their resume so, after two or three years, they can apply somewhere that pays REAL money, and where we probably won't have a new superintendent next year because they can't get anyone to interview for the position.

At Christmas, on the same day that our interim Superintendent sent out a sweet holiday poem thanking us for being so wonderful, the local paper printed the story of the neighboring district getting an 8% raise, retro to the beginning of the year. THAT district cut special checks for the retro and district staff HAND-DELIVERED the retro checks to every teacher in the classroom (and it's a fairly large district) before Christmas. Needless to say, teachers in our district were somewhat chagrined at the comparison, and let the district know. The good news is that the negotiations team was able to take our distress into negotiations and came out with an 8% raise, not retroactive (which makes it 4% for this year.)

In addition, though, the sup't travelled to all the schools with the encouraging words that he was recommending closing some of our smaller campuses and consolidating them into larger, more efficient campuses. Now, don't get me wrong. I would love to have classes of 25, like the smaller K-8 programs. Instead, I have classes of 34 and 35, and I'm paying the bill (since our state funds schools based on numbers of students) for those smaller classes. It wouldn't seem so bad if my pay wasn't so lousy, but I'm feeling like I'm paying for some other teacher to have less work out of my grocery money. So, anyway, the sup't flat out said they were going to close these schools so that there would be enough money to bring our salaries out of the gunk on the bottom of the pond and at least into the middle. A community committee worked every Tuesday night for MONTHS to recommend which three schools - based on the age and needed repairs - should be closed. For heaven's sake, we're a city of 65,000 people and one of our schools is on a septic system! They can't grow in population because their system is failing and they can't afford more little tinklers. To hook them to the sewer system (they're outside city limits) would cost a quarter of a million bucks.

Naturally, the parents at the three target schools are complaining loudly (did I mention, my sons were pawns moved around the district fifteen years ago as the district dealt with the same problems?) and, predictably, the Board started waffling. The 120 teachers who attended the meeting and who had to work the next day were so disgusted that they got up and walked out at 11:30 pm.

We haven't given up hope, but it's going to take some doing to convince the Board that they should proceed as planned. And, the person in charge of convincing them is ME. How I got into this spot is a long story. Let it suffice to say I was put in a spot (asked in front of a large group of new volunteers; how could I say no?) But I've been very busy putting the plan in place. Tonight we meet to get things started. Next week will be interesting, to say the least. I've never seen the teachers so angry and energized. They are so done. So done putting up with rude students and their bully parents for the lowest compensation in the county, while they deplete their savings to fork out over $700 a month to get medical insurance for their children. One of my colleagues had to raid his family's Christmas savings (not much from Santa for his four-year-old last year) to replace the bald tires on his car. And all because the board members want to protect their pet projects (oh, did I forget to say that the Board president's daughter is married to the son of the principal of one of the schools to be consolidated? sheesh.)

So, I am scheduled to meet tonight at dinner to report what's been been done so far and to get advice on next steps. Since I seem to be at a pause, I'm cleaning the family room (first deep cleaning in about five years) and I can feel the cobwebs in my mind go at the same time. Tomorrow is our deferred Lincoln's Birthday holiday (don't ask) and I'm taking the day off and going to Disneyland for some restorative therapy. I invited DS2 to go with me if he doesn't have to work (another long story). He won't know until that morning. I hope he goes; he needs therapy, too.

1 comment:

TNChick said...

Definitely looks a like! Wow, 6ft8 now - he's one tall fella!