Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Have San Leandro schools solved their money problems?

I'm glad to see that the school district is financially sound. I haven't looked at a spread sheet recently, but the actions of school administration sure make it look like there's no money problem in the district.

Why else would the principal at Garfield Elementary have rejected a gift made by teachers to support the school crossing guard program? That's right, she returned the donation. San Leandro Teachers' Association, the Union representing San Leandro's 500 teachers, made a contribution to each of the elementary schools in the district to support the financially endangered school crossing guard programs. Most of the schools graciously accepted the gift, but apparently the Garfield Principal determined that the school has no need for the money.

At least I'd like to think that the contribution was rejected because of an improving district budget, because it's past time for teachers' salaries (among the lowest in Alameda County) to catch up with our neighbors. Although, I admit, the district has been sending out mixed messages. After all, teacher salaries were reduced last year by cutting a staff development day from the school calendar. And then, the district offered Muir teachers the opportunity to work that day for only 25% to 35% of their normal salary. (District to teachers: We want you to do the work, we just don't want to pay you for it.)

I guess it leaves me wondering, if the contribution weren't rejected because of the district's improving financial situation, then why would the contribution to Garfield be rejected? Could it be that the district now views teachers as social pariahs? You know, so despicable that they are unworthy of making charitable contributions? Akin to tobacco companies and alcohol companies? That doesn't seem like a strong basis for good staff relations and positive school climate.

I just can't believe that would be the truth. That would be a bit insulting. I'd much rather believe that a big offer for a pay raise to catch San Leandro teachers up with their neighbors is just around the corner.

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