A CCUSD Board Member Speaks: “Machiavelli: Do the Ends Justify the Means?”
The Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) Board of Trustees voted last month (June 2013) to give our employees a “well deserved” 2% across the board raise because our employees had not had a raise in several years.
Without any prior public discussion from the full Board of Trustees or the public, there was an Action item placed on the June 25 Board Agenda to raise the Board of Trustees monthly stipend 2%, and to make it retroactive to July 1, 2012. The action item passed with a 3-2 vote of the Board. The raise will be effective at the beginning of the new fiscal year, which began Monday, July 1 – approximately six days after the vote of the Board.
Many of you have been my active supporters and I want you to know that I could not vote in the affirmative for the above motion for the following reasons:
- There are times when the Board has to act quickly upon certain issues: state mandated legal timelines or emergency situations. If the foregoing is not the case, procedurally, ever since I have been on the Board, the Board's practice is to have “Information items” precede “Action items,” at least by two weeks - i.e., presented at a prior Board meeting, in advance of the action item. The reason for this is to give the public enough time to express their opinions and positions on items, which in most cases provide the Board members with much information upon which to deliberate and reflect prior to voting upon the “action item.” I know that I have learned much, by listening to the people who come before the Board with persuasive, relevant and thoughtful ideas and information.
- Also, there was no discussion, information or statistics, at the any meeting this academic year as to how our Board's stipends compare with that of other districts the same size as ours.
- I also stated that if we passed this retroactive increase, especially at a time when we are discussing putting a bond (tax), on our citizens, it sets a very bad precedent. Especially, since we have a fiduciary responsibility to our community, citizens, and taxpayers. We are trustees of the common good, our students and our educational programs.
Today many people are either jobless, under-employed and have no medical insurance of any kind. Our Board members have full-time jobs / occupations (although one is retired). The District (supported by taxpayer’s dollars) currently provides Board members and their families access to the CCUSD District’s health benefits / insurance. In the event the Board member does not have health benefits / insurance through their full time private job / occupation, the Board member receives this benefit from the District.
- We knew when we were elected that there are two required board meetings per month, along with other obligations to the District and our students. Are we and future Boards to give ourselves raises, inadvertently, or whenever we give the full time employees a raise? Is this the precedent we want to establish as a governing Board entrusted with dispersing public funds with scrutiny and trust?
Some people feel that the amount of money being given, at this time is a small amount. But, for me it is not the amount of money - it is the principle and precedent that is being set. I do want to thank Board member Nancy Goldberg for voting “No” on this haphazard Board action, as I did! As always, I am a dedicated public servant, especially as it pertains to our children, their education and their success. Sincerely,
Professor Patricia Siever
Vice President, CCUSD
Board of Trustees