Letters to the Editor
May 21st, 2009

To the Editor:
As a former teacher for the Fillmore Unified School District, it has been exceedingly distressing to read of the current struggle for fair utilization of the District’s budget. I am compelled to comment because I am personally acquainted with the dedication and competence of the certificated and classified personnel. I have also served as Fillmore Unified Teachers’ Association (FUTA) president and was a long time member of the former District Budget Committee.
A school district the size of Fillmore Unified should require only a competent superintendent and one assistant superintendent. Competent is the key word. The fact that our district employs three assistants suggests that competence is not a factor. Why was the Director of Personnel promoted to Assistant Superintendent with a salary increase of 48 percent? Why was the Director of Business promoted to Assistant Superintendent with a salary increase of 31 percent? Other district personnel received similar inflated salary raises. Why did the School Board approve these promotions and raises? In the state of California, such high salaries are usually awarded only to district administrators who manage 3 to 4 times the staff, 3 to 4 times the students and have a budget 3 to 4 times that of Fillmore Unified. As a consequence of our administrators’ grossly inflated salaries, teachers are cut, librarians are cut, classroom aides are cut, and the students suffer.
Our students will not only suffer with less direct contact and services now. They will suffer with decreased ability to qualify for higher education and lessened future earning potential. This is not what education is about and certainly not what is good for the students. The people of Fillmore and Piru deserve better.
I respectfully request the School Board to rescind the promotions of the Personnel Director and the Business Director and conduct an immediate review of ALL district administrative restructuring and personnel/salary increases made during the last 24 months. During a time of a budget crisis, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted. It is the legal and moral responsibility of the School Board to rectify this as soon as possible.
It is their moral imperative and duty to be the best custodians and conservators of our public funds for the benefit of the children in the Fillmore Unified School District.
Mary Ford

To the Editor:
As an individual teacher and FUTA member not representing anyone other than myself, I would like to apologize to Mr. Sweeney, the Board of Supervisors, and the other FUSD administrators for the false information printed in a front page article of the Gazette on May 7th. The erroneous information stated that Mr. Sweeney has received a 25% pay increase since he was hired not quite three years ago. This is very simply not true. His pay is approximately 5% more than it was on his hire date.
As we all know, we are in difficult economic times and the district has been required to make painful and severe cutbacks to the budget on the order of $1.7 million. If it were true that Mr. Sweeney had received such an enormous (25% salary increase), our natural and justifiable response would be to think poorly of both Mr. Sweeney for receiving it and for the Board for granting it.
Thankfully, this figure is nowhere near the truth:
1) On May 11th I went to the district office and filled out the form requesting Mr. Sweeney’s contract.
2) On May 13th by noon I had the contract in my hands.
3) The next day, the 14th, I sat with both Evalene Townend in her office and with Cathy Bojorquez in her office. Both of these women shared with me their information regarding the terms of Mr. Sweeney’s contract. Ms. Bojorquez gave me a copy of the district’s budget sheet that concerns Mr. Sweeney’s salary.
4) I learned from the original three year contract that Mr. Sweeney’s starting salary was $140,000/year.
5) I learned from the budget sheet that his salary for this year is $147,350. Math reveals the base salary increase to be 5.25%.
I love Fillmore Unified School District, where I have worked for eighteen years, and I love the community of Fillmore, even though I do not live here. I hate to see the community being divided by misinformation. There is an economic fire burning in our country, and it saddens me to see our community tossing logs into a fire of our own making. The desperate times we are in call for more than our usual level of cooperation in order to find workable solutions for a heartrending financial situation which none of us created.
Christina Wilson
Teacher, FUSD
FUTA member

(To see the original salary data provided by the District Office, click here.)

To the Editor:
In response to Fred Carpenter's May 14 letter:
Hi Fred, this is your next door neighbor (one of the leaders of the "Pro Rent Control". This survey was done by a group of volunteers who split up the El Dorado phone book, went down their list calling EVERYONE we had a phone number for and listing the results. I can't speak for others who did the work, but I personally would call back part of the list, starting at the beginning, if they were not home the first call. I got tired of calling and quit the callbacks before I reached everyone on my list. If you want to dispute the info we gathered, then do your own survey and quit speculating and trying to spread false rumors. We do our homework, I can't say that about the "Anti Rent Control" group which is less than half the number of our group. I have nothing against your "group", but I do understand your MO.
Dave Roegner