Fix it, teachers urge Marysville district
Teachers feel betrayed after pay cuts followed by spikes to administrator salaries and a repeated "message of fear" to Marysville Joint Unified School District trustees about finances that prove better than projected, a union leader says.
"You need to fix your system," Inge Schlussler told trustees on Tuesday. "Morale is low, employees are angry and it's your job to fix it."
The vice president of the Marysville United Teachers Association said school district administrators and trustees are spared increased payments for health care coverage while teachers' costs climb.
"You can't feel what it's like," Schlussler said. "Today's the 13th of the month. I have nothing in my bank account."
She later spoke about going to the supermarket with her daughter and having to tell her they couldn't afford to buy a pack of strawberries.
Schlussler said projections by the district of financial problems raise fears and pits one employee group against another.
"When you get everybody really scared," Schlussler said, "it's like a feeding frenzy."
Employees end up fighting over a tiny piece of bread, she said.
Marysville Joint Unified spends $2.1 million less for teachers than it did in 2007-08, the union official said at the board meeting attended by about 40 teachers.
Trustee Bernie Rechs, speaking before Schlussler addressed the school board, said Marysville Joint Unified has great teachers, that five of the trustees taught — and added that few people know some teachers in the school district make more than $80,000 a year.
Teacher Connor Oliver, among speakers following Schlussler, said such instructors put in the time with the district and have the education credits to warrant such pay.
"They deserve every penny of it," Oliver said.
Mark Allgire, assistant superintendent for business services, whose financial projections came under fire from the union, said later during the board meeting that "budgets are projections."
"We don't know for sure what has happened until the books are closed," Allgire added.
Trustee Jeff Boom said the school district can't know what the state government will do about financing education because of frequent funding changes in Sacramento.
"Mr. Allgire," Boom said, "can't figure out what the state is going to be from month to month, from year to year."
Schlussler, who came to the podium with a bundle of budget documents, said the figures on district finances come from Marysville Joint Unified.
"I can show you everything," she said, "and teach you how to read it."
"These are your numbers," Schlussler added, "I don't make them up."
She said Superintendent Gay Todd and assistant superintendents Allgire and Ramiro Carreon hold too much power in the district.
Noting the passage of Proposition 30 statewide which raises taxes to fund education — Schlussler said the people of California — although not Yuba County — value education and want money to go toward it.
Her presentation came during employee organizations addressing the board, and trustees could take no formal action.
Trustee Margie Markle said at the start of the meeting that, as the vote now stands, Anthony Dannible will be elected and that Tuesday was her last school board meeting. Markle said she began as a trustee in 1991 and several superintendents served during the two decades. "Gay, you're the best," Markle said to Todd. "You're the best."
Markle won applause after concluding her remarks by saying, "I'm very proud to be able to say I was a Marysville Joint Unified School District trustee for 20 years."