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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Superintendent’s bonus is money that should have gone directly to our schools

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Newport-Mesa Unified School District Supt. Fred Navarro, pictured in 2014, was recently awarded a $29,812 pay supplement based on performance.
(File photo)

In December, the Newport-Mesa Unified school board completed Supt. Fred Navarro’s annual evaluation, granting him a generous annuity bonus of just under $30,000 (“Newport-Mesa superintendent gets nearly $30,000 performance award,” Dec. 10). It was done with a swift, 6-0 vote — without discussion and despite public opposition.

This was the fourth tax-sheltered bonus Navarro has received in his six-year tenure, bringing his total bonus annuities to over $110,000. This might not be alarming to those familiar with 21st century executive salaries, but it is to teachers, staff, parents and members of the community who care deeply about the schools and our tax dollars — and who have experienced firsthand the superintendent’s leadership failures.

To sum it up, the superintendent’s performance has been mediocre, a C grade in a district with A grade families and students. Issues with trust, communication and collaboration from the beginning of his tenure linger, as do the lack of comprehensive policies and departmental oversight that have resulted in rat infestations in our high schools, science labs without running water, buildings with rust and peeling paint and many classrooms still lacking air conditioning.

Add to these the millions of dollars wasted on Swun Math, the Estancia netting poles, sewer vapors and pool debacles — money that should have gone to our students.

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On a brighter note, two enthusiastic, new trustees and a new board president who is a former NMUSD teacher and principal, were installed last month. These leaders, together with growing parent and community involvement, the work of the student advocacy group NMC4S and the possibility for three new trustees in the November 2020 election, provide hope for innovative, 21st century leadership that will put the needs of students and teachers first and reflect the excellence of our joined Newport-Mesa communities.

Laurie Smith

Newport Beach

The writer is a retired Newport-Mesa teacher.

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Republican Party did itself in

While I agree with the contrition expressed by writer Michael Torres regarding the plight of the Republican Party in Orange County, it did not address several reasons directly that explained Republican losses in Orange County in 2018 (“This is what the Orange County Republican Party needs to do to survive,” Dec. 27).

First, the slavish allegiance of office-holders and candidates to the current administration and GOP hierarchy in D.C. turned off many voters who clearly saw who was to blame for things going wrong and not getting better.

Second, the abject failure of GOP incumbents to listen to the needs and concerns of their constituents. Republican candidates similarly failed to connect with those they wished to serve. They counted on a strict party registration advantage to see them through.

Third, it was clear that the GOP message was wrong for an electorate that had wised up. Gone are the days of blind obedience to right-wing ideology and party leaders who simply demand loyalty while failing to inspire.

Mr. Torres would probably acknowledge that the Democrats did a better job of appealing to the needs and concerns of the Orange County electorate on issues like health care, the environment, infrastructure, immigration and fairness. Mr. Torres would probably acknowledge that the Republican Party did a lousy job of representing conservative views and values. Limited government, fiscal responsibility, the rule of law and other tenets were consistently disrespected by the party leadership in Washington, D.C.

No amount of outreach or putting lipstick on a pig (or elephant) will redeem the faith of the GOP electorate in Orange County, if the message is wrong and if the messengers are unreliable.

Tim Geddes

Huntington Beach

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