Mother Lode Union School District (MLUSD) has undergone many changes the past few years. The most shocking event was the closure of Charles Brown Elementary, their school of 50 years, to move students to a land-locked location that will never allow for future growth when the economy recovers. With the Office of Education staking claim to the former school site, what is the district planning to do if a San Stino-like subdivision is built, or when the future subdivision is built off Patterson? But the district appears to have more pressing problems.
At the end of this school year, five seasoned teachers will retire from Mother Lode. What does this mean for the district? The certificated salary schedule for teachers at MLUSD is $66,950 for the high-ranking teacher while the lowest member on the schedule makes just $32,960. Because each of these retiring educators have more than 20 years of service in the district, one would think they sit at the higher end of the pay scale and will be replaced by low end ones. Although, I don’t have access to the exact figures for what the district will save when they hire new staff members, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a lot of cash will be freed up.
Retiring teachers aren’t the only way Mother Lode will be saving money next year; apecial education aids and other classroom aides have been cut. The board agenda in which these staff members were laid off listed the action as “Resolution No.13.14.17 Elimination and/or Reduction of Classified Employee.” There was no mention as to who these staff members were and no copy of “Resolution No. 13.14.17″ at the MLUSD Website. So I dug deeper and finally had the opportunity to read this mysterious resolution. In short, it reads “classified employees shall be subject to layoff for lack of work or lack of funds.” Did Mother Lode suddenly have an exodus of students leave campus? No, so that seems to rule out a lack of work. And since five teachers just retired, it seems there should be enough funding to cover employees who are only making $12-$16 an hour when they work less than six hours a day.
But wait, there’s more … the English Learner program received cuts too. And though I don’t know how much money that will save the district, the figures speak volumes. Indian Creek has a Hispanic population of 32 percent and Herbert Green has almost 26 percent. So clearly the EL program hasn’t been cut due to “lack of work” either. So where is all the money going if Mother Lode can’t afford cheap help and a program the school needs? Look a little closer and you may wonder why both district psychologists decided to leave Mother Lode at the end of this school year. And why is the superintendent on her second secretary of the school year? These could just be coincidental, but when the district cuts the employees who actually work with children, it’s time to voice concerns about how things are being run.
From what I’ve learned, the current superintendent at Mother Lode was given a raise, prior to the start of her employment with the district. The past superintendent was making $115,000, according to the district’s Accountability Report Cards, while the current superintendent brings in $132,000 (available on the El Dorado County Office of Education Website). But that’s not the only raise handed out; there was a recent retroactive 3 percent raise too. According to Buckeye’s Accountability Report, published during the 2013-2014 school year, the superintendent salary is $143,500 (buckeye-ca.schoolloop.com). Mother Lode has just two schools for the superintendent to manage while Buckeye’s superintendent has seven. So perhaps it’s time for Mother Lode to push for combining districts if they really want to save money.
Sadly, it’s not just the superintendent who sits high on the pay scale. The Indian Creek principal, according to the accountability report, is making almost $98,000 as a first time principal. The Herbert Green principal brings some experience to the table, but is also making just under six figures at $99,800. And these figures don’t include benefits and more than likely, both principals also received the recent 3 percent raise since they are union. And, there’s also a vice principal who is new to the district this year as well. I’ve heard great things about the principals and vice principal, but the superintendent, principals and vice principal received two raises and they haven’t even worked a full school year. Long-term employees have been cut.
If any of the figures I found are wrong, Mother Lode should set the record straight. It is not right to cut the employees who work with children so administrators can enjoy a nicer paycheck while the children are cheated out of a quality education.