LA Unified board votes to pay Deasy for unused vacation*
Vanessa Romo | March 5, 2014
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Superintendent John Deasy works too much.
So much so, that he rarely takes time off for vacation. As a result, the Los Angeles Unified School board voted at its monthly meeting yesterday to pay him for up to 24 days of unused vacation time, the equivalent of nearly $30,000 added to his annual salary of $330,000, according to Megan Reilly, the district’s chief financial officer.
School board member Bennett Kayser alone objected to what he said is a salary increase for Deasy, who threatened to quit four months ago. Kayser said it was inappropriate especially, “while we have employees who have not gotten a raise in years.”
It is the kind of perk that is sure to anger union leaders on the eve of contract negotiations after years of drastic budget cuts. Warren Fletcher, president of the teachers union, along with many of his nine challengers in UTLA’s current election campaign, are making pay raises for teachers a big part of their campaigns.
“I know a lot of teachers who would love to get their vacation days paid out. It’ll be interesting to see if they can get the same thing,” a union insider told LA School Report.
In one of its shorter meetings — under five hours — the board covered a lot of other territory, with discussions on Cesar Chavez, Armenian genocide, water conservation, Women’s History Month, National Library Week and figuring out a way to encourage district employees to get health coverage. The members also spent a few hours deliberating the future of a handful of schools, based on their fiscal viability.
An audit conducted in 2012 revealed “a risk of fraud, waste and abuse” at the two schools – located in board District 1, which is currently unrepresented, and Tamar Galatzan’s District 3. But Jose Cole-Gutierrez, Director of LA Unified’s Charter School Division, said Magnolia Public Schools, the company behind the science academies, has rectified the deficiencies in their financial systems.
Board member Steve Zimmer had other misgivings about the approval, given that the school’s declining enrollment and plans to downsize even more.
He asked Deasy, who supported the charter approval, to justify his position after calling for the closure of a small, traditional public school in Boyle Heights.
“I remain concerned that we are saying there is a level of fiscal viability that we need to be very vigilant about when it comes to LAUSD schools and then as authorizers we don’t need to show the same level of vigilance,” Zimmer said.
The other school in question is the Academy of Environmental and Social Policy, one of seven schools originally operated by the Partnership of Los Angeles Schools at Roosevelt High School, though it’s located off-site at the East LA Skill Center.
Last week , ESP school officials received notice that declining student enrollment made it too expensive to operate in its current location. As a result, the school is facing the prospect of being disbanded or relocated to Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights.
A group of about 40 students protested the district’s plans outside of LA Unified headquarters.
Students and faculty say moving, especially to Lincoln Heights, is not an option. They say gang rivalries between the two schools would jeopardize student safety. And it doesn’t appear that they would be welcome by Lincoln High faculty either.
Marisa Crabtree, a teacher at Lincoln, said the reorganization required would be disruptive. “I’m afraid moving another small school onto our campus will create upheaval,” she said.
It would also be a tight squeeze on campus. There are currently three schools and approximately 1,500 students located on the site.
Crabtree said teachers should be focusing on “shifting our attention to the new Common Core standards rather than shifting classrooms and offices and redistributing bodies unnecessarily.”
*Corrected to clarify language of the 2012 audit regarding the Magnolia Academy Science schools.