OUSD board elects new prez, gives itself raise

Gary YeeAt an organizational meeting this morning, the Oakland school board unanimously elected second-term board member Gary Yee (right) as its president and Chris Dobbins as its VP, according to Troy Flint, the OUSD spokesman.

The board also voted to increase its monthly compensation from $750 to $787.50, a 5 percent raise which amounts to an extra $450 a year per member ($3,150 for all seven board members).

I wasn’t at the meeting, so I didn’t hear the discussion around this issue, but I’ll watch the video when it’s posted. Thoughts?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://yahoo.com teacherspet

    This is only a nominal raise and Board members are not paid enough. That said, raising your own salary in the face of budget cuts and teacher contract negotiations takes a fair amount of hubris.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Nominal is right. Professionalize the board with better pay and we might see improvement over time in performance. Longtime watchers know many board members run unopposed even before they become incumbents.

  • Nancy

    Come on now…Gary is gonna be greattttt!!!
    If the heart is not in it for the job itself, no amount of pay will improve anything…Watch out for those bulldozers….

  • Jim Mordecai

    The question of pay raise should be a public event and it was with the Board passing in public the maximum pay increase allowed under law of 5%.

    I am not sure how that 5% was calculated. I don’t know when the Board’s pay started. If it started with return of local control, then the Board made a very small amount for July, August, September. Maybe the Board calculated its pay increase based on per month and ignore the amount of pay for the year.

    When Board members miss meetings, they are suppose to be docked. I am not sure that this was enforced this year.

    However, the Board did not made public how much is the total cost of the school board. Do they get benefits? Do they get conference fees and travel expenses? Do they get paid for cell phones and computers? How much does Board administrative support cost? These are all specifics that the public is entitled to know since the public is paying the bill.

    Remember that the Board was cut off from all funding, including salary and cell phones for a number of years.

    As the cost of the Board rises over last year, a question may be how many teachers will have to be pink slipped to cover the rise in the Board’s operating budget.

    I remember each Board use to have a paid assistant paid out of the general fund. But, that is before the District went broke and was taken over by the state.

    My point is not that the Board is overpaid, but the cost associated with the Board should be transparent and broadcast by the Board. Given the full information, it is up to the voting public to decide if the expense for the Board is appropriate.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Alice Spearman

    Mr. Mordecai, For your information, board member bear the cost of their cell phones, not the district. We are loaned computer equiptment, to be returned to the district when we leave office. We do not have paid assistants. Total cost for board business is a public document, to my knowledge you just asked for the documents yesterday. You did not attend the public meeting today to ask any question you wished.
    Also our stipened according to my figures ( which may be off a penny or two) is $0.92/day, which I do not think will cause any teacher or other employees a pink slip. We work very hard to represent all the citizens of Oakland along with all the employees of the district. I think we deserve the $32.50/month increase. The board has not had an increase in 16+ years. It really puzzels me as to why you are so fixated on the business of our district. It is an election year, why don’t you run for a board seat? Trust me, life is different on the other side.

  • harlemmoon

    So, was the raise because the board (which wasn’t in a position of authority for the past few years) hadn’t seen a pay increase in 16+ years or because it is doing a job worthy of a pay hike?

    In a sane world, neither reason would be acceptable. But, ah, we’re talking about Oakland here. Carry on, esteemed panel. Carry on.

  • TheTruthHurts

    It’d be nice to have board members who didn’t have to make a living elsewhere. Of course, that would create people running for office for money and not political gain (which one is worse? I dunno).

    It’s just the stench of it all that gets me. Who in Oakland doesn’t deserve 5% more? Who else is going to get 5%+? Who’s going to make that call? Oh yeah, the Board, that’s who. Like I said in an earlier post – RAISES FOR EVERYONE!! Count me in because my company is considering furloughs (after the layoffs).

    Didn’t Oakland get in this mess in the first place by spending money it didn’t have? Hmm?

    This ought to be interesting.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Board Member Spearman:

    I’ll take your word that you do not have a paid assistant, but your posted statement: “We do not have paid assistants” is contradicted by this professional contract (09-3550)brought before the “Finance and Human Resources Committee:
    09-3550 Professional Services Contract – Alejandra Leon – Board Member Constituent Services, District 6
    Oakland Unified School District Page 18 Printed on 1/ 1/10 Finance and Human Resources Committee Agenda (Long) January 04, 2010 Approval by Board of Education of Professional Services Agreement between
    District and Alejandra Leon, for the latter to provide constituent services, as described in the Scope of Work, for Board Member Christopher Dobbins, for the
    period for the period October 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010 at a cost not to exceed $1800.00.
    Funding Source: General Purpose – Board Member Allocation

    There is something wrong, in my opinion, about the Board not educating the public on the details and full cost of the Board on a regular basis.

    Jim Mordecai

    Jim Mordecai

  • Chauncey

    Mr. Mordecai

    Aint you got a life? Man.. I mean I have seen you fly one thing after another…. Arent you a sub? If so, If I was OUSD, I would give you a real FT job to keep you busy man!

    Cut it out! I cant believe Ward Roundtree, whom I respect, lets you tag around flying union as your tag.

    Dont pay him no mind Ms. Spearmen, I truly have sympathy for the guy.

  • harlemmoon

    I think we’re all after full disclosure. After all, it was messy bookkeeping that helped to push OUSD off the cliff to state receivership.

    I say let Jim have his say – as you all have yours.

    Now wasn’t Dobbins the guy who was investigated for being a tad too close to underage girls? Now he’s the VP of the Board. People, could we not have done better. Just a little bit, huh?

  • Chris Dobbins

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your interest and concern. The Board was given an allotment this year of $6,000 for public use in their district. Ms. Leon has been working with me since January by attending meetings, doing office work, and representing our district when I have multiple engagements. She is putting in over 50 hours a month for the nominal price of $200 per month. She is an OUSD graduate and is currently attending Chabot College. The Board does not have assistants, per se, but I have chosen to use part of my allotment to “hire” someone to help. If you have other questions, please email me:

    Hope you are having a great new year!

    chris dobbins

  • Oakland Teacher

    The personal attacks in #9 and 10 above demean this blog, bringing it down to the level of a chat room.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    I agree with, and thank, Oakland Teacher. I have cut my reading of this blog down over the past year or so, in order to avoid the vile nature of responses like these. So much more productive movement and engagement is needed in Oakland.

    I appreciate Mr. Mordecai’s tenacity and his ability to locate and share information from obscure bureaucratic sources which too few people have the time or interest to read. Oh, and he doesn’t hide his name.

    Sharon Higgins

  • Jim Mordecai


    The -point I tried to make to Board Member Spearman is not that you as a Board Member should or should not spend $6,000.

    The point I was trying to make is that the Board should inform the public the total cost of Board members.

    I bet there are few in the public that knew about each member having $6,000 per board member to spend–I didn’t until I found out reading the Finance Committee minutes. Chauncey is right that I don’t have a life reading such fair.

    Because the Board has not initiated providing full information on its cost, it will, I believe, lead to some citizens imagining there is more money being spent that the public does not know about.

    A proactive Board policy of disclosing on a regular basis how much the Board cost the taxpayers seems to be a wise and democratic policy. Only being informed that the Board receives or doesn’t receive the lawfully allowed 5% increase is not sufficient transparency.

    Finally, Chris I didn’t contact you on this issue because it was not about one person but about the whole Board’s policy and the manner in which the public is being fully being kept informed.

    Jim Mordecai

  • harlemmoon

    Oakland Teacher (what an oxymoron), I’m just raising a question.
    If that’s not OK with you, beat it.

  • Sue

    Harlemmoon – stop trying to chase away the experienced teachers. We have too much teacher turnover already. There’s no need to demonstrate what a rude jerk you are capable of being. We all know plenty of rude jerks IRL. How about trying to pretend that someone, sometime, made a *successful* attempt to teach you some manners.

  • harlemmoon

    Wow, Sue. Insulting and angry. Perhaps ’tis you who needs a lesson in humanity – if not a medical prescription.
    A pox on your house.

  • Katy Murphy

    OK, OK, everyone’s made their points about blog etiquette, or the lack thereof, or about the people raising concerns about it. Let’s get back to the issue: School board compensation, and the board budget issue that Jim raised.


  • Sue

    Hmmm. I can’t even guess how many times I’ve tried to convince my husband to run for the school board. I work full-time, so I couldn’t in good conscience. I just wouldn’t be able to give the job the attention it deserved without neglecting either my family or my employer’s needs.

    This puny little raise wouldn’t make the slightest difference in my husband’s decision – the board requires too much time and energy, and doesn’t provide adequate compensation.

    We may not always with the board’s decisions, but we have to respect the folks who are willing to take the responsibility and are doing their best to fix what’s broken, and improve on what’s working. It’s pretty much a thankless job they’re doing.

  • Kathy

    I’m an Oakland teacher being asked to have 0% pay raise according to the latest offer. I work from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm to teach 7th and 8th grade English along with two other classes each day. I would like to know why the school board deserves 5% while I deserve 0.

  • Kafi Payne

    If the 5% raise waited 16 years, it could have waited a couple more years. In this horrendous fiscal situation it looks bad. I don’t support it.

  • Katy Murphy

    The minutes weren’t posted when I filed this report, but I should note — however belatedly — that Jody London and Gary Yee voted against the raise.

  • Filly

    I want to thank Mr. Mordecai for being there. As a full time teacher I don’t have time to attend board meetings, but am thankful that you are there for us, just as you were as a full time school teacher. I want to thank him for keeping things honest and fair. Mr. Mordecai does have a life, his life is improving OUSD in his own way. All the the criticisms just bring it down. Tell us what you do to help the situation not tear people down. You are part of the problem, if you aren’t part of the solution.