As new AALA president, Flecha eyes benefits of stronger economy
Mike Szymanski | July 9, 2015
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Taking over as new president of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA), Juan Flecha says the time has come to take advantage of an improving economy and restore support staff and janitors at LA Unified schools.
In an interview with LA School Report, Flecha outlined plans he has for the 3,000 certificated and classified administrators he now leads after assuming the presidency on July 1. Foremost among his goals, he said, is restoring staffing levels to the same level they were before drastic budget cuts made during the past recession.
“I know that all of my administrators are hard working, but I want to improve the working conditions for all my principals,” he said. “There is an upturn in the economy so we can do it.”
Flecha served as principal for Eagle Rock High School and Thomas Jefferson High School before he took over as Administrator of Operations in Educational Service Center North, which covered 200 schools K-12 from Verdugo Hills to Woodland Hills.
SInce he was elected to AALA’s presidency in March, Flecha has been meeting every Wednesday morning his predecessor, Judith Perez, who had been with LA Unified for 46 years. She has agreed to work at least two days a week in his office despite her retirement.
“Dr. Perez has been incredibly collaborative and will ease the transition,” he said.
And that transition, he said, is moving toward well-defined goals. For example, he cited a successful tiny elementary school in the San Fernando Valley that has a principal aided by only one four-hour administrative assistant. The principal still has to fill out all the same paperwork that a larger high school must complete, but she answers the front office phone if the staff person is away.
“I want to get clerical staff back to the norms of five to seven years ago,” Flecha said.
That also includes renewing full janitorial staff. When Flecha recently told principals that they would each have a plant managers back at the school, he heard their cheers first-hand.
“I don’t want them to have to hear complaints that no one emptied the trash,” he said. “And it would be nice to have floors mopped up every once in a while.”
He said he sees his job as president to lobby to restore the cuts of the past. That includes library aides and two to three campus aides for every school.
He takes credit for getting the campus aides back in the schools. They’re the people usually wearing yellow vests who sign in visitors at the front of the school and keep order on the playground.
The good news coming into his job is the UTLA agreement that gives everyone a 10 percent rate increase. AALA benefits from that through a “me-too” contract arrangement that replicates improvements won by other unions.
Perez was on the health benefits committee, and he wants to assure that strides made in that area will continue. And, he wants all administrators to be better educated about their contracts and the collective bargaining process.
Meanwhile, he said, he hopes to “keep the institutional memory of the association created by Dr. Perez and keep negotiating in good faith with the district.”