Part of the Bay Area News Group

Q&A with HUSD school board President Grant Peterson

By knoceda
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 at 11:45 am in General, Hayward, Schools.

Hayward school board President Grant Peterson was excluded from the Q&A session with Superintendent Dr. Dale Vigil and Hayward Education Association President Kathy Crummey that we published last Friday because some answers required more time for research purposes. He was initally interviewed last week, while the strike was still going on.

Here are his answers, in his own words, to strike-related questions from parents, teachers, students, readers and The Daily Review.

Why did you feel it was necessary to give such a large raise to the top four administrators when teachers had not yet received a raise and negotiations had not been settled?

We had just settled a three-year contract with Hayward Education Association in December of 2005. The district was just coming out of financial difficulties, and at the same time, we finally had a strong administrative team in place.

Three months later, in March of 2006, we began looking at the three (not four) administrative contracts that were coming to an end in June of 2006. These three individuals were committed to our district, but we also knew the reality, that March is the time other districts recruit top talent, and we knew that we could lose any or all of them.

We wanted to stop the “revolving door” syndrome that has plagued HUSD administration over the years, and the only way to do that was to keep their salaries competitive. Our board felt that the district could afford the $57,000 it cost to retain these administrators. We also knew that replacing any of these administrators would cost more than the raise we gave them.

We also wanted to align these contracts to Dr. Vigil’s, which ends in June of 2008, so we would be able to have all four of our contracted employees on the same schedule. We felt that having all contracts aligned would again provide for stability and continuity that HUSD had previously lacked.

Why does HUSD need the highest paid superintendent in the area?

Actually, HUSD does not have the highest paid superintendent in the area.

Many superintendents’ salaries include a car allowance, expense account, payment of professional dues, reimbursement for training and professional development, an annuity and health insurance. Dr. Vigil receives two things: his salary and reimbursement for his professional dues. Nothing else.

The bottom line: If you compare the salary and benefits Dr. Vigil receives to other superintendents, both locally and in similar school districts across California, you will find his salary to be competitive but by no means at the top. In Alameda County alone, the total salary and benefits package of two superintendents exceeds that of Dr. Vigil’s, and an additional two are within a few thousand dollars of the total compensation offered by HUSD.

A major factor in setting a superintendent’s salary is the history and marketability of a district. HUSD has faced many tough challenges for a number of years, with stability at the top level being absent. When our board began its search for a superintendent, the first “round” met with failure. We did not find any candidates that we felt fit our needs, so we began a new search. This second search brought Dr. Vigil into the candidate pool, and the board determined that he was an excellent match for helping us fine-tune and implement our goals. He has done just that.

Part of the agreement with Dr. Vigil was that he would bring in additional resources to the district, and he has done just that. In under two years Dr. Vigil has brought over $4.2 million into HUSD in the form of grants from foundations. He has moved here, registered to vote here, and has quickly become part of the Hayward community.

To answer your question again, while Dr. Vigil is not the highest paid superintendent in the area, he has brought so much to this district and is worth every penny he has been paid, and then some.

How much money has been spent on outside consultants, including the demographer, the lawyers filing injunctions, curriculum consultants, professional development and other consultants hired from outside the district? How much this year? How much in past years?

(This information is provided by Jan Combes, Business Services)

General purpose (unrestricted) funds are not spent on curriculum consultants or professional development; these are paid for out of state and federal grant money specified for these purposes only.

HUSD does not have a Facilities Department, therefore it was necessary to use the services of an outside firm when HUSD developed its Facilities Master Plan. Funding for these services were provided from a combination of developer fees, state grant funds (Williams Emergency Repair Act) and residual money left from prior district construction. The Building Fund is separate from the General Fund money and cannot legally be used for employee salaries. This included demographic projections, help with realigning boundaries, prioritizing construction projects, and assessing the needs for safety and structural improvements under the “Williams Act.”

Administrative services primarily represent the cost of doing business and include advertising and fingerprinting expenses, legal expenses, election costs, audit expenses, and some mailing and printing services. We do not have the most recent legal fee figures; however, the services of an attorney are part of the HUSD negotiations process. Our legal fees also include fees relating to all district services, including special education.

Please see attached chart, which shows that Educational and Operations expenses are the largest percent of outside services utilized by HUSD.

Consultants

Why has the board been seemingly absent during the strike? Why does it seem like the board defers all authority to Dr. Vigil? Doesn’t the board have more authority than him?

It may seem to the public that the board is not involved –- or absent –- during the strike. Our board is not part of the negotiations team. We have, however, met almost daily to remain updated on the status of negotiations and the strike. We are in constant contact, sometimes several times an hour, with Dr. Vigil and district staff. Each of us has spent a great deal of time responding to e-mails, phone calls and faxes, as well.

Prior to the strike, the board determined we needed to have a single spokesperson for HUSD, and that person would be Dr. Vigil. A school board has one employee, the superintendent, and he has followed the direction of the board meticulously. What authority Dr. Vigil has he receives from the board and the California Education Code.

Is the district paying to fly subs up or transport them in from other districts?

HUSD is not flying subs up. We have had several retired superintendents (all certificated) who have come from other areas on their own time and paying their own way. We have not reimbursed them for any expenses, nor did we pay them for working. Each administrator either assisted the site principal or taught in a classroom on a volunteer basis.

Is the district budget available for public viewing? If so, where?

The district budget is a public document. Anyone can review the budget. A copy is available in the superintendent’s office, and if more specific information is needed, arrangements need to be made through Dr. Barry Schimmel’s office: (510) 784-2680.

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • another tired teacher

    Yes, in 2005 they settled with the Hayward Education Assocaition for a less than 1% raise for teachers, claiming poverty! I believe it was .83% Can you see our frustration?!

    The community elected the School Board and expected a response from them during the crisis.

    Mr. Vigil went on vacation in the middle of the crisis. Neither him nor the school board was available, or vocal during a critical window of opportunity when the impact on students would have been the least. Where was the district spokesman then?

    The board has not returned emails to any parents or teachers on this blog or at any school or to any teachers I know of.

    Mr. Vigil rents here, and has insulted the parents and teachers at every turn.

    Parents on this blogsite and at my school site tried to obtain real copies of the budget from the district during the strike to no avail.

  • teacher

    Dr. Schimmel has applied for a position at Ohlone College. It seems that the 16.84% increase didn’t retain him. Good move, Grant. Good riddance, Barry!

  • http://www.markwelch.com/perspective/husd2.htm Mark Welch

    I have read the employment contracts for Dr. Vigil and Mr. Schimmel, and contrary to Mr. Peterson’s statements:

    (1) In addition to the “salary and professional dues” which Mr. Peterson claims is the ONLY compensation Dr. Vigil receives, his contract also provides for $12,000 in additional payments for health insurance, plus a retirement-plan contribution. Normally, these are routine and ordinary benefits, but of course they sound more unusual when Mr. Peterson’s falsely claims that these expenses are NOT paid by the district.

    (2) The contracts I was given are all for the three-year period from 2005-2006, so there was no requirement to re-negotiate the administrator’s salaries in 2006 as Mr. Peterson alleges.

    (3) If Mr. Peterson is going to credit Dr. Vigil for “bringing” four million dollars of foundation grant money (which I assume any superintendent could have applied for), why doesn’t he penalize Dr. Vigil for several million dollars of additional teacher salaries that are going to be paid because of Vigil’s (and Peterson’s and Schimmel’s) outrageous contempt and insulting of teachers?

    While most parents and teachers would be very glad if Mr. Schimmel leaves HUSD, I would be sorely disappointed if Ohlone College were to hire him, given his contempt for teachers. I would not want HUSD graduates to experience another strike in a year or two when Dr. Schimmel insults and provokes those teachers.

  • http://www.markwelch.com/perspective/husd2.htm Mark Welch

    Oops – the administrator contracts I received, like Dr. Vigil’s, are for the three year period from 2005-2008.

  • http://www.markwelch.com/perspective/husd2.htm Mark Welch

    And one more comment: before you try to visit the district office to view the budget, try to call ahead and make an appointment with a specif person. Parents who attempted to view the budget a couple of weeks ago were turned away.

  • fernando hernandez

    I just can’t believe that peterson keeps on lying about facts, like the real compensation vigil gets.

    Mark: did I read this right? $12,000 for health insurance? Or does that include the retirement-plan contributions?

    I also find his attitude that the board didn’t have to talk to us parents outrageous, particularly since it took 2000 people to rally outside vigil’s office BEFORE vigil spoke to the parents.

    We need to make sure the board and vigil understand that the next time they decide to provoke a strike, the community might decide not to collaborate with them.

    You might ask,
    How did we collaborate?

    The ONLY reason our children were safe, was because us parents kept them home, despite the adminstration’s lies about the safety of schools and the quality of the learning environment that was going on during the strike.

    Now, wouldn’t it be fun if for instance, next time there is a strike, us parents set up a phone tree and used it to make it diffcult for the adminstartion to “organize” their strike.

    What if we all followed their instructions and all kids were to show up on the first day of the strike? Lets call their bluff!

    We the parents of course would have to stand outsidse the schools sites and make sure TV crews were at hand to show just how well the district was prepared to handle 20,000 students with less than 200 subs, many of which were just not qualified.

    We could take our kids home after chaos erupted.

    We could also for instance, make sure that SOME schools got flooded with children at 8 in morning, and then we all pick up our kids at 9 and some other schools across town could get a bunch of kids at 9:15, etc. Forcing the district to shuffle what few subs. they managed to have at hand.

    The comunity has lost faith in this administration, the board, and our principals, who were much too willing to go along and feed us the same lies the district was feeding us on the phone, tv and newspapers, instead of giving us the information we needed to make an informed decision.

    I, for one, will not cooperate with the district if they choose to “negotiate” using the same strategies next time.

  • Kary Loredo-Welch

    Hey Fernando… nicely said.

    Mark was curious about the contracts for both Vigil and Schimmel, called HUSD and asked in writing for them, HR made copies and gave them to us so that we can look them over… thus the frustration because their actual contracts state differently than Peterson’s answers above… it seems silly doesn’t it.

    We (a few people I talked to about organizing ‘what we could do next?’) had discussed the idea of trying to get the parents to put all the students in the schools for just one day and see the district scramble. Personally I was curious about this theory and when I spoke to parents wanted to feel them out if that strategy was feasible. As it turns out although the idea is nice, many parents weren’t willing to risk the safety of the children to prove the point. I would have been willing but would have stayed on campus all day to ensure things were fine. It was still in my head to keep on the back burner if the strike went much longer.

    Another idea was to keep the students out one more day after the teachers went back into the classrooms. This would have done two things… shown the district that it was the parents that were making the decisions to keep the students home and give the teachers a day to regroup and prepare for the return of the children. It would have been very effective however very much impossible to pull off.

    UNLESS…

    There was a phone tree system in place for the parents. THAT is the ultimate problem that I see in the district. We as parents have no form of communication as a whole. Yes we have a few parents from our student’s classrooms, perhaps we even have a few teachers phone numbers, but how many schools have in place an actual full working “phone tree”? A way for parents to contact other parents… the answer I fear is very few. This has got to change.

    I must say reading your words…. “wouldn’t it be fun if for instance, next time there is a strike,” is somewhat frustrating because if we did it right as parents we could PREVENT a strike from ever happening in this district. We could put in place active committees that are informed and taking action to step in before it goes that far. A group of people that are fully involved in getting the facts, making them listen and communicate with the other parents BEFORE something is taken as far as this strike was.

    The fact that the negotiators were having meetings since August 2006 and it wasn’t resolved until April 2007 is SAD! And as parents we must insist that these negotiators are held accountable for not doing their jobs well. As parents we need to be a part of the process instead of just left to pick up the pieces after they’ve failed over and over to come to an agreement.

    As I said to the hundreds of people listening during endless hours of strike… “The teachers are 1,300 strong but WE are more than 20,000 students strong! You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!!!” Now what are we going to do to organize that many people? It is really up to us. It is up to the people that are willing to step up to the plate, stay active, make their voices heard and take ACTION.

    Change takes action. Half of the people involved in the community have already gone back to ‘sleep’. They are getting back to work, settling back into their old routines. They have said… “That was terrible, I am glad it’s over.” What about the other half of us, the ones that KNOW that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The community members that KNOW that one person CAN make a difference but a group of people can make change happen.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not naive enough to think that the district is going to welcome us with open arms, they aren’t. They don’t want anyone looking over their shoulders, they don’t want people asking questions and calling them on their version of the truth. And then there is HEA… they are excited about the community support they have received these past few weeks. But what happens when the community speaks up to them, requires them to make some changes, are they going to make these changes willingly… maybe, but maybe not… it will depend on what is being asked.

    Change does not come without hard work and commitment. How many of the community got very little sleep during those 10 terrible days? How many of you canceled your plans during spring break because of what was happening? How many of you took time of work so that you can participate, stay home with your children or both? It took sacrifice from everyone to get the strike to end… but…. Is it really over? Are things really better? This was NEVER about the actual 16.84 number… it was about RESPECT!

    Whew…. lol… so my challenge to the community…

    Are you one of the people that see that change must happen?
    Are you willing to choose a topic and take real action?
    Are you willing to do what it takes to make changes?
    Are you willing to put in the time that it might take to follow through?
    Were you one of those voices in the crowd that was saying “recall, recall, recall”?
    If so, what are you going to do about it?

    There are three kinds of people…
    People that make things happen.
    People that watch things happen.
    And people that say, “Hey! What happened?”

    What kind of person are you? If you are ready to make change happen, please contact me at kary@karylw.com I am ready to help bring like minded people together to empower them take action.

    Kary

  • Leslie Cienega

    Kary,

    Everyone has family and friends so people can pass the word around that way but with that it seemed that the issue of schools and it teachers and the board were not important. I tried to get people to go to the meeting but no one i knew showed up.

    About the parent phone tree i have an idea i dont know if it would work but here it is:

    Every school has a parent that would be informed of whatever from you guys and…..

    Every class room has a parent that would get the info (bi-lingual) from the one above and …then that parent would be in charge of informing all those parents in their childs class.

    like that the whole schools parents will always be aware of whats going on!

    I would love to have had something like that this year! It is sad that it takes something like a strike to bring people together. I really do not want a repeat strike so what ever i can do to help i will.

    PARENTS GET INVOLVED IT IS YOUR CHILDRENS FUTURE AND IT IS UP TO YOU TO HELP IT BE ALL IT CAN BE AND IT STARTS WITH WHAT KIND OF EDUCATION THEY RECIEVE !

  • fernando hernandez

    Hello everyone:

    Leslie: I think we need to think bigger, we need to have a Families in Action rep. in EVERY classroom.

    I for one would be willing to be the rep. for my daughter’s class,

    I suspect if we talk to the teachers, they might be willing to get us in contact with the one or two people they think would be willing to help in their class,

    When the information and or instructions need to be disseminated, it shouldn’t fall on one individual to comunicate with a whole school, I think people might get overwhelmed by that, and wouldn’t volunteer.

    If we have a school rep (say the head of the PTA in each school), that person can get the information to the class reps, who would then pass it on to the parents in their class,

    Somebody reading this might know the answer…

    I don’t know if there are laws that would prevent this, but if I’m in Families in Action or the PTA, can I ask from my teacher to distribute an informational flyer to the kids at the end of the day?

    Can we just show up and pass out the flyers? It would be so much more efficient if
    the teachers could add it to the homework package…

  • Leslie Cienega

    Fernando,

    that is what i ment.

    but you see the school rep would call the class reps then the class reps would call each parent.
    All you did was change my phrasing. (my brain is kinda out of service a lil cause my baby is teething and im goin on a few hours of sleep) Thanks.

    But if it worked like that then the word would get out faster.

    About flyers i dont see why they cant pass it out with the homework packs my girls have gotten pizza flyers and karate and dance flyers as well . Maybe each class rep would be incharge of making sure that the kids for that class got the flyers?

    I would be willing to be a class rep too. Another thing in markham they have a table in the hall with flyers so we can even put them there depending what it is about. And to raise money bake sales and also selling hot dogs (i seen a high school sports team do it in front of food source). That money can benifit families in action for paper and copies, maybe a special phoneline, and whatever else might be needed. I am sure parents will be willing to donate some cookies or cupcakes and some hot dogs for a good cause! I know i will! Even time.. as long as i can take my kids then i will be there to do whatever i need to do!

  • another tired teacher

    Kary,
    your post brought tears to my eyes. I for one appreciate parents so much that I do not mind parents calling me and showing up all the time! Several of my students’ parents have my number and actully half my class did choose to stay home the first day back b/c it was a minimum day and things were kind of hectic and things were decided so late.

    I agree that so many lies have been told. I wonder if the board is even aware of them. Maybe they have been fooled too.

    Fernando, officially, all things sent home must receive district approval unofficially things do get sent home with homework packets etc. I really like the idea of having a Families in Actionparent in each classroom. t the very least there should be several from each school site. I think that a district wide group like FIA is crucial to Hayward. A group like yours can get so much done, and you all can share so much about what goes on at different school sites, and what parents’ rights are. Many times teachers get caught in the middle. We are “discouraged” and frowned at by administration if we inform parents of their rights. It would be so helpful and powerful if other parents were disseminating the information to all parents. I agree with Leslie, it must be available in other languages as well. Some parents stay silent because they are afraid of calling attention to themselves because of their immigration status. This is not right, but the district knows this and plays on their fears.

  • Kary Loredo-Welch

    Tonight the Famlies in Action leaders met with Dr. Vigil and Christina Quinn. We were given some time to specifically ask pointed questions and share our concerns with them.

    The first thing I’d like to share is that there is a meeting scheduled on May 16th at 7:00 pm at Tennyson High School. This meeting has been put together by the Board of Education and Dr. Vigil. It will be an “open mike” forum with translators for the spanish speaking families.

    We inquired about the 44 Williams Act complaints that have been filed and what the status is… they are going to have a specific meeting regarding those.

    We talked about the disconnect between the families and the district and focused on healing with the community in order to retain teachers and families. We requested monthly ‘town hall’ meetings and workshops for our families in order to rebuilt the connection that has been lost.

    We talked about the Latchkey program and were told that they are diligently working on a solution to either come up with more money to fund the program or to change the program to make it self supporting. We also discussed the YEP program and the many changes that are needed to improve it at some of the sites. We talked about how the quality of care in the programs needs to be addressed and consistent from site to site.

    We talked about the non-existent ‘community calendar’ for events that are happening district wide and were told the new website is being worked on and that is going to be a part of it, including links to the school sites and more information for parents.

    And finally we talked about the safety (or lack there of) in the schools, specifically Tennyson High and the students coming and going from the school. We asked about future plans in the Jackson triangle for the students getting to and from school with all the construction that is going to happen. We were assure that the district will fulfill its promise to get the children ‘safe passage’ no matter what it takes.

    There was more… these are the basics. We will follow up with details ASAP.

    I am glad to hear that there are parents willing to get involved. I am working on a way to put together a list of ‘contact parents’ for each site and then we can build from there. In the mean time, keep doing what you are doing for your school site and in the community because you are making a difference already by just staying alert.

    Kary

  • Leslie Cienega

    what is the meeting for?

  • Kary Loredo-Welch

    It is a meeting for the community to address the district on a different level than the formal board meeting. It is a way to try to rebuild the communication and discuss the much needed issues that need to be changed in the district. There will be more information posted on the HUSD website about it, we were told.

    Kary

  • fernando hernandez

    Kerry:

    Thnaks for working on this,

    Will they be able to answer to our questions? (asuming there are answers)

  • Leslie Cienega

    are kids allowed?

  • Kary Loredo-Welch

    Celebration Teacher and Family Picnic
    At Kennedy Park on Wednesday, May 9th starting at 4:00 pm
    Please come and celebrate together as a community!

    Celebrate our teachers on “Day of the Teacher”
    Celebrate that our children are back in the classrooms!
    Celebrate the unity in our community!
    Bring a dish to share. Bring your entire family for food and fun!

    “The picnic is at Kennedy Park starting at 4:00. It’s a barbecue. The picnic is celebrating Day of the Teacher and also a thank you to our wonderful Parents and Community for the support we received during the strike.” Kathy Crummey, HEA President

  • Kary Loredo-Welch

    Sorry I had lost this link in the mix of other threads.

    Dr. Vigil had called one of the Families in Action members and postponed the meeting due to the fact that the school board members schedules could not accomodate the meeting.

    This meeting was set up by HUSD and cancelled by HUSD. At the school board meeting on May 9th, i spoke to the school board that again the community is dissapointed because an opportunity for open communication has again been cancelled.

    After the meeting Dr. Gonzalez stated that she wasn’t ready to come out into public yet. That time is still needed to recover from the strike and that she wasn’t willing to subject herself to any more negativity from the community.

    We, as FAMILIES in ACTION, will be hosting meetings on specific subjects and also a ‘Town Hall Meeting’ for the parents. Please go to our web site at http://www.haywardfamiliesinaction.org for more information.

    Kary

  • another tired teacher

    Maybe if Dr. Gonzalez had “come out” during the strike instead of “hiding out” she would not have been subjected to so much “negativity” from the community. The people who voted for her expected her to do her job as promised in good times and in difficult ones.

  • Mark Kovarik

    In case many of you missed the Board meeting on 06/27/07, recommendation H-13 on
    the agenda was passed 4-yes, no-0. This would eliminate the position of one plumber,
    leaving one plumber for 40 sites ( though sites are closed or leased out we are still
    responble for the maintenance of the sites). When you lose water, you lose health
    and safety. Water to flush toilets, wash hands, run boilers to provide heat, coolant to run refrigeration,irrigation, loss of the ability of washing down the facilities.

    Other positions included a journeyman welder position, building and trades supervisor and carpenter and painter supervisor.

    This would effect many employees because of bumping proceedures.

    Classified employees of H.U.S.D. would greatly appreciate your support on this issue.

    Mark Kovarik

  • Mark Kovarik

    I would also like to add, with the passage of closed campus at high schools, there will be greater demand of health and sanitation. The elimination of a plumber and leaving one plumber to responde to 40 sites is absurd. Maybe the Board needs to visit the sites for unadressed inspections, walk through the student restrooms, classrooms and do a checklist inspection, and perhaps the Supt. should be with them at the same time.