As Popeye used to say, “That’s all I can stand, I can’t stands no more!”
Who are these people at the El Dorado Union High School District Office? Why do they feel they don’t have to follow the same rules they impose on the staff and faculty who work with our youth? I have three children attending Ponderosa High School, and I’m pretty sure the other schools within our district are feeling the same budget woes and double standards coming from the district office.
First, a July 15, 2010, article in the Mountain Democrat quotes President of the EDUHSD Trustees Mary Muse as saying about Superintendent Sherry Smith, “that Smith has balanced the budget by not hiring new or replacement staff and faculty. When someone leaves, she is not filling the vacancy.”
So that means when a teacher or staff member retires (the people who directly work with our kids), nobody new gets to come along and take their place. But the same numbers of students are left behind when they retire, so how does that work if the district doesn’t replace them? Well, the kids get fewer choices of classes, the classes that aren’t academically necessary but sure do make school more engaging and allow for creative expression, like Digital Photography, Advanced Art, and Newspaper Journalism. Kids from every end of the academic spectrum benefit from these classes — do the research, the evidence is there.
Second, Sherry Smith has since retired, making sure she got her ill-timed pay raise before leaving. And the then Assistant Superintendent Christopher Hoffman has taken her place. These are six-figure incomes, not five-figure incomes like our staff and faculty on campus. I wonder how many teachers and/or staff we could hire with one of these high-end salaries?
Third, guess what? A job posting for the now-empty assistant superintendent position showed up on the district Website last week. What? But I thought there was a hiring freeze! That is what every teacher and staff member at our high school is being told. And really, what does an assistant superintendent do for my kids? I want teachers, campus monitors, counselors, librarians and all those people who actually interact and support students on a daily basis to be replaced before anyone at the district level is replaced, don’t you?
Here’s just a little more to get you revved up, and this is only at Ponderosa. I’m guessing the other high schools have tales to tell. Last year, when one of our assistant principals retired, he was replaced with one-half an assistant principal. Wow, thanks EDUHSD! And that also means he was taken away from one of the other high schools half-time too. Very nice. Assistant principals are the folks who are kind of responsible for taking care of disciplinary actions at schools. I guess that just isn’t important nowadays.
And this one hits a little closer to home: Our librarian is retiring at the end of this year, and she deserves it and I would never deny her retirement. However, there is some serious discussion going on at the district about how to carry on without her, or with a part-timer, or a rotating schedule of fill-ins, or maybe not have the library open at all. What the heck? On average, over 1,300 students use that library every day. No, I’m not exaggerating.
So what can you do? Send an e-mail to the new superintendent at email@example.com and tell him that the district office should be the last place to replace retiring staff within the district and they should follow the same hiring freeze that the schools are following. Or call him at 530-622-5081 or 916-933-5165, ext. 7236 and let him know. Better yet, show up at the next board meeting on Tuesday, March 8, El Dorado Union High School District Boardroom, 4675 Missouri Flat Road, Placerville, Open session: 6 p.m.; the public is welcome.
LORI PARLIN, parent and volunteer