As the only independent on the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees, I am frequently asked why I vote no. I am writing to explain recent events from my perspective.
I voted no on classroom size increase. Ocean View district administration has contrived to save money by increasing kindergarten-through-third-grade class sizes from 24 to 29. This action saves money by eliminating teachers. Several hundred community members and teachers have appeared at recent board meetings to testify. They even held a protest march on public streets.
It was claimed teaching 29 students is more work then 24, and that beloved teachers would be fired. Parents spoke eloquently about the reduced "face-time" their children would receive under the new class-size scheme. I too believe it would be more work for our teachers, and I support our vociferous community opinion. I voted no, 4 to 1.
I voted no on so-called furlough days. The administration contrived to save money by stealing precious teaching minutes from our children. Last year, we took whole days of teacher "face-time" in order to keep pay the same and give teachers a raise. This was outrageous. We should be teaching more minutes and days, not less. We measure teaching literally by the minute under state law. Furlough days keep pay the same; there is pay reduction only for reduced days worked. I voted no, 4 to 1.
I will vote no on teacher step freeze. Every day teachers live, breathe and eat, they qualify for an annual raise up to 26 years of service. This is unlike any private sector job, where it is typical to have only five "steps" compared to the 26 teacher contract "steps." The only way not to qualify for time-in-place raises is to reach the top or stop teaching. The step freeze halts the automatic raises for a period of time. As a result, new younger teachers get short-sheeted while senior teachers laugh all the way to the bank. I support equal treatment for all our teachers, and not some in favor of others. I will vote no on step freezes.
I voted no on hiring the current superintendent. When the board was faced with the daunting challenge of interviewing the market for the brightest and best superintendent, they punted, taking the easy route. The board hiring decision was the convenient choice, an existing employee. I voted no, 4 to 1. Because the board refused to survey superintendent candidates outside existing employees, I also refused to sign the contract as a testament to my disappointment in the hiring process, 4 to 1.
I will continue to vote no in favor of our children, taxpayers and the community that elects trustees.
JOHN BRISCOE is a trustee for the Ocean View School District. He can be visited online at http://www.johnbriscoe.com.