Budget cuts 3 years ago meant stripping stipends from Elementary teachers and foregoing a pay raise of 2.2% for administration. Although many administrators make well over 6 figures, the 2.2% pay raise was reinstated in 2010 for the 2011/12 school year while at the same time admins decided that what previously constituted a stipend for extra work, is now a regular part of the job. Recommendations from committees on this subject are conflicting. Sub-commitees in various areas made recommendations to an advisory committee where recommendations were altered to reflect the current district attitude… it’s all part of the job. Meanwhile, admins receive a pay increase while teachers and far too many in the private sector face cuts, shortages, or unemployment.
Governing Board Clerk, EJ Anderson reversed her position from the meeting on 7/26 where she reiterated the recommendations of the sub-committee on elementary music to restore stipends and agreed with their postion adding her comments that she felt the board should recognize the recommendations of the sub-committees and go with their direction. Then, on 8/9 she made little comment but rather followed the lead of board member Helen Hollands who recommended following the district recommendations for no stipends. Hollands remained relatively consistent with her original stance from months before while in the process publically stating a distaste for tabling issues and then herself tabling the issue only minutes after berating the practice in the meeting on 7/26 and asking the administration for information on costs and number of teachers affected should stipends be awarded.
Board members Staci Burk and Shane Stapley asked for more information how the recommendations were determined and what metrics were used to measure stipend value. During multiple board meetings, Stapley asked district administration if this information would be made available prior to 7/26 with assurances of the same.
During the meeting on 7/26, Stapley stated his frustration with the district for failing to meet committments. GPS Superintendent, Dr. Dave Allison stated that he had been on vacation and had arrived back into town only the day before and was unable to properly inform board members while he was away. A report from Advisory Committee member and Human Resources Director, Jeff Filloon was made available to board members mid-day. Stapley commented that the report arrived only hours before the board meeting and that the paper was dated 7/26 wondering if the information was prepared the day of.
After hours of debate and obvious lack of information, the board rejected the decision to reinstate stipendsby a 2-3 split vote. Board members do appear to agree to directing the district to reassess the stipend program but have been less than clear on the direction for how that reassessment will be made. Common sense causes us to wonder what was done the first time around. The task belongs to Associate Superintendent, Nikki Blanchard who also served on the stipend advisory committee the first time around. We hope the 2nd time around will yield improvement, but with the same folks in the driver’s seat and no new direction or clarification it’s anyone’s guess what will result. The process certainly has not been shared openly, and parent supporters and teachers alike would certainly like to know the ingredients to the secret sauce.
Interestingly, in late 2010, GPS governing board members approved $100,000 for a strategic plan initiative from an outside consultant that arguably should be part of the job description of the superintendancy. During the process of evaluating the merits of such a decision, then board candidates Staci Burk and Shane Stapley spoke out in opposition to the strategic plan citing excessive costs and the idea that such interests should be part of the district administration’s job description. Ironically, it appears that the elementary school teachers paid for the strategic plan via loss of their stipends. 90 teachers times $1,200 dollars each totals to $108,000.