FUSD Board President Rebuts FUTA
Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

To the Editor of the Fillmore Gazette:
By: John Garnica, Fillmore Unified School District Board President
I was disappointed to read the “article” submitted by the Fillmore Unified Teacher’s Association. First, the article was presented on the Gazette’s front page as factual, instead of opinion. Secondly, neither the administration nor the board was given the opportunity to counter any of the claims made in the article. Last, there was no by-line under the headline of the article - it is only at the end of article that we discover the authors the article are the teacher’s union leadership. That said, let me point out factual errors, and let the reader decide whether that “article” was actually news, or just opinion.
First, the board’s stated goal has always been to keep the cuts as far away from children as possible. The union leadership claims we only cut teachers and classified staff who are closest to children, instead of administration. In fact, the administration was the first to feel the pain, as we decided in January not to fill one administration position (technology director) and later cut another full-time quasi-administrative position at the district level. Out of senior administrative staff, this represents 2 positions out of 8, or a 25% reduction. Later, the board authorized to reduce administrative pay through a decrease in their work days. I personally spoke to Ms. Marvel and reminded her of these facts after one particular board study session, but apparently Ms. Marvel has forgotten our conversation. To set the record straight, the district administration took the first cuts, and continued to take cuts as we moved through the budget building process.
Second, the union leadership claims top administrators have all received pay raises, however they leave out key pieces of information. For example, when Superintendent Contini left Fillmore, he was earning $117,000 per year. Like any board should do, we contracted a search firm, and after an open and thorough search, we hired Mr. Sweeney at the going rate for a district our size - $147,000. The only pay increases he’s received so far are the same percentage increases that our teachers and classified employees receive for step and column increases. His pay is commensurate with his duties, but is actually ranked 14th out of 17 districts in the county. If anything, he deserves a pay increase to achieve parity with other superintendents, or he may be tempted to leave. The same holds true for the assistant superintendents. So from a factual basis, what the union represented is in fact very deceptive. So, did the pay for the positions go up? Yes. Did any individual receive “25%…31%…48%…28%” pay increases while in those positions? No.
I would ask the reader to think carefully about the following. The classified employees have taken serious cuts in terms of hours worked per day and days worked per year. They are feeling the pain of the budget crisis. The administrators have taken cuts outlined above, and are also feeling the pain. Ms. Marvel claims the teacher’s union has taken cuts. But let’s look carefully at what these claims really are. The board decided to give a teacher retirement incentive to save money, and not fill the resulting vacancies. The board decided not to fill vacancies left by teachers that were not re-elected or vacancies from resigning teachers. We could do this because of declining student enrollment and working more closely to the contractual student-to-teacher maximum ratios. These two decisions amount to over $300,000, but the union leadership has not been involved in any of these decisions. So far, individual teachers have not felt any pain, other than a single layoff notice. Compare this to the rest of the county, where most districts are giving out dozens and dozens of layoff notices.
During this budget crisis, we do not need people who resort to negative tactics and stonewalling. We need positive leaders that will look out for the best interests of our students and community. And we are still waiting for the FUTA leadership to step forward with a constructive proposal that helps bring our district together.

FUTA Response:

FUTA deeply regrets that the FUSD School Board members have yet to address in any meaningful way the FUTA proposal from the April 21st meeting titled, “FUTA Proposal for FUSD School Board to Address Overstaffing and Budget Reduction at the District Office.” This proposal suggested reorganizing the district office and detailed cuts that could be made to our top heavy district staff. We urge all the board members to do what is right and keep cuts away from kids.

Theresa Marvel, FUTA President
Chris Pavik, Bargaining Chair
Ann Wade, Bargaining Co-Chair

For a response to Mr. Garnica's letter see "Realities" located here

FUSD Salary Data
A statement printed in the May 7th edition of the Fillmore Gazette by the Fillmore Unified Teachers Association (FUTA) based salary amounts and increases on data provided by Mr. Bush at the Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD). The data specifies base salaries and total compensation for all district employees for fiscal years 06-07, 07-08, and 08-09. The data for Bush, Hadley, Sweeney and Townend is available below under "File Attachments"