My mother was the first person I’d ever heard say, “Sometimes the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.”

Or is it the left hand that doesn’t know…


The case in point is the district and it’s Human Relations Task Force.

In a recent recap of the meeting, there was this bullet:

“The HRTF would like more transparency of how information is shared with the at-large NMUSD community (i.e. post on Facebook, newspaper, other forms of social media). The NMUSD and OCHR will work collaboratively to ensure this meeting and any future meetings and workshops are posted as widely as possible.”

So on the one hand, the folks facilitating the Task Force are making transparency a priority but over on Bear St. transparency is almost non-existent.

To test the level of transparency, I used the district’s search function to try to find a few basic resources that should be readily available. They were:

“Budget” and “2018/19 budget” and “current budget” – This got 10 results for each version, none of which linked to the current budget.

“Superintendent contract” and “superintendent’s contract” – This returned 10 results (a pattern is emerging!) that were all “Board Meeting Briefs,” none of which included a reference to either term. My guess is that because the briefs originate from the super’s office, the search grabbed them.

“Transparency” – No results.

So, there you have it. Not a scientific survey, but enough of a sample to indicate that while transparency is being urged/developed by a district-created task force, the district itself has a long way to go.

Transparency is not a selective or subjective policy. Either you post everything, in which case you are transparent, or you pick and choose what to post in order to present the best possible profile, in which case you are not transparent, you are sneaky.

OBTW, you’d never know the district ever had a major pest problem: The search results for “rats” and “rodents” turned up nothing.

The transparency policy starts at the top with the superintendent, who is participating tomorrow in another in a long line of secret special meetings that the district does not want you to attend, despite their frequent claims of wanting community input.

The only item on the agenda for tomorrows secret special meeting is this:

7.a. Public Employee Evaluation: Title – Superintendent (Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957)

The trustees won’t be discussing the super’s evaluation in open session, they’ll do it behind closed doors. First, though, they are required by law to allow the public the opportunity to speak on the agenda item.

This is not a complicated agenda and the topic has rolled around at this time of year for a long time. Despite that, however, the agenda for tomorrow’s 9 a.m. meeting was posted yesterday at 10:35 a.m.

For the sake of the fiscal responsibility, the community, and sound administrative practices, the trustees should not extend the superintendent’s contract, give him a raise, or award him another bonus to the tax-deferred annuity of his choice until he has reached specific targets by specific deadlines.

These targets include:

  • Improving overall academic performance to a reasonable degree based upon CAASPP results.
  • Improved teacher morale by a reasonable percentage, based on a benchmarked survey taken “today” and another in six months (or nine, or…)
  • Reset district transparency policy to the extent that the district receives a Sunny Award (national transparency award) from Public CEO. (The city of Costa Mesa received the award a few years ago.)
  • Provides a reasonable reduction in expenditures without reducing the quality of education or performance (do more with less)
  • Plus, they may have a few more ideas on your own.

The super has enough taxpayer dollars. See for yourself:

Navarro salary

(source: Transparent California, 2017)

And these numbers are not even current…

No more money, no more nothing, until some big problems are fixed.

Steve Smith