The first thing I noticed at last night’s school board club meeting was the absence of ties on the men in the administration. This is the first meeting since the last day of school and apparently, the dress code had been abandoned. All of the women were dressed appropriately.

Why the calendar makes any difference is a mystery. These people are making a lot of money and are conducting important business that includes the process of the education of our children, as well the spending of millions of tax dollars. The least they could do is show respect for this process and dress in business attire. That they did not do so on this first meeting after the school reveals that the usual ties/business attire is just for show.

The second thing I noticed was the absence of Susan Astarita the district’s deputy something. It was mighty curious, seeing as how Astarita has been working for us for 22 years and is retiring tomorrow. And given that the school board club lives to hand out feel good awards for things like this, it was odd. Of course, there is always the possibility that there was some personal matter that prevented her from attending so we’ll leave it at that. It was just something I noticed.

Britt Dowdy, the new president of the teacher union got up to give the school board club the what for on the stalled compensation negotiations. He was clear and direct on his request that the school board club authorize the district negotiating team to authorize an increase in [compensation].

Russell Lee-Sung, whose pooh-bah title is “Associate Superintendent Chief Human Resources Officer,” was asked to respond and did so in fine bureaucratic fashion, telling the school board club that there are no negotiating days scheduled. Club member Karen Yelsey, who will be leaving the board in two years as she keeps her promise to serve 12 years, told him in so many words to find some days.

So why are negotiations with teachers stalled? Because despite their rhetoric, the district administration doesn’t care about teachers, doesn’t care what they think, and has no desire to give them one cent more than they have to. If they did care, the negotiations would be over, there would be no Swun Math, and the work environment would not be one of fear and retaliation. Talk is cheap, club members. Action is priceless.

There is, of course, the possibility that there really is no money to give to teachers because they’ve spent it all on the top brass.

Let’s close tonight with the regular questions about the Mariners Gold Ribbon mess:

  • Who, if anyone, assisted the Mariners’ principal in completing the application?
  • Who reviewed the application for accuracy before it was submitted?
  • What was the application process at the 11 other schools that achieved Gold Ribbon status?
  • Who completed the applications at the 11 other schools?
  • Who reviewed the applications at the 11 other schools?

If the teacher union is correct and there are “untruths and inaccuracies” in the application, taxpayers deserve to know who was involved and what consequences they will pay for their actions.

My spidey sense is tingling over the Mariners Mess.

Steve Smith