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Las Lomitas trustee resigns

Original post made on Oct 7, 2009

David Bailard, a member of the Las Lomitas Elementary School District board, resigned on Monday, Oct. 5, district officials said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 11:58 AM

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm

In a statement read today, it became clear that Mr. Bailard resigned as a result of a letter writing campaign executed by the teachers of the Las Lomitas School District. In the letter campaign, each of the School Board members received letters sent to their homes from teachers who want the School Board to approve their pay contract. Evidently some of the content of the letters was both personal enough and inappropriate enough, that Mr. Bailard resigned immediately.
I am deeply saddened that he and his family have had to go through this. David has been a thoughtful, deliberate and tireless volunteer in the Las Lomitas School District for years. The same can be said of the other volunteers on the School Board.
As a taxpayer, parent and school volunteer, these divisive and mean tactics do not endear me to the cause of the LLESD teachers.
Evidently these same teachers are seeking salary increases in a year when our small district faces the loss of funds due to the Lehman Brothers crash, paying over $700,000 in "fair share" monies back to the state, and increasing district enrollment. It appears that any raises will have to be funded from reserves - in other words, - the district will need to deficit spend.
Along with many other parents, I am surprised and disgusted by the actions our teachers have chosen to take in our small community.

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Posted by Involved Parent at LLESD
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 7, 2009 at 11:25 pm

I agree with "anonymous" and want to add that Dave AND his wife have tirelessly volunteered their time and energy to our schools for many years.

I considered Dave to be one of the leaders on the board and who was the only board member who really understood the school budget and could simplify complex concepts that, quite frankly, very few of the other board members understand. Although we appreciate the other volunteers on the board, Dave is a real loss.

As for the teachers, as a parent, I believe they do a great job educating our children. However, much of what makes our teachers successful is the incredible support the entire parent community provides. Very few school districts receive discretionary funds from their foundations, but ours does. Fortunately, we have very generous parents, who have contributed funds totaling between $1-$1.5 million per year the last few years. Raising these much-needed funds is difficult, especially in this economic climate. The parents deserve a huge amount of gratitude from the teachers and the staff.

Our PTAs have supported the individual campuses and raised funds to provide the extra perks, such as field trips for our kids. Our classrooms have not really felt the pinch because the PTAs and Foundation have worked very nicely together to give our teachers and students the best.

One other perk that our teachers receive, if they have children, is that their children have the opportunity to attend the two schools in one of California's best school districts-- ours. There are about 18 children who fall under this category. That means taxpayers in the Las Lomitas school district are paying about $250,000 for kids who do not live in our school district to attend Las Lomitas and La Entrada. This perk is one that our parents are more than happy to provide our teachers, along with compensating them at one of the highest salary levels in the area and in California. However, this all seems to be overlooked by the teachers right now, especially in light of a recent letter to the editor by a district parent, who does not live in the district, is the husband of a Las Lomitas teacher, and has three children attending Las Lomitas and La Entrada.

I hope the teachers realize that there really aren't too many other school districts in the state like Las Lomitas. Our district has an ideal work environment and provides the volunteer and financial support that help students succeed. If the teachers are not happy in our district, then perhaps, they should look for greener pastures.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of La Entrada School
on Oct 8, 2009 at 10:30 am

Just look at the Las Lomitas School District. It has weathered many recent crises like the Lehman Brothers loss, the reduction in state funding, increased enrollment, lower growth in property tax funding, among others. Students have not seen class sizes increase, nor have they lost elective choices or programs like music and art, especially in the higher grades. The commitment of parents to the success of the district is evident in the huge number of volunteer hours, the well-over 80% participation on the Foundation’s annual fundraising campaign in 2008/9 resulting, along with the auction, in a $1.4 million gift to the district. There are also the countless donations made to classrooms because of teacher “wish lists”. The teachers are amongst the best paid in the area and have done a stellar job in educating the students evidenced by the outstanding recent API achievements.

The school board has been instrumental in helping the district be so fortunate. Dave Bailard can be singled out as a key figure in managing the district’s financial stability which has allowed for such smooth sailing. If teacher salary increases need to come out of reserves and place the district in deficit spending mode, it could jeopardize the long-term stability of the schools.

There are many uncertainties on the horizon such as whether or not the state will come after basic aid schools again like they did a few years ago, whether or not basic aid schools will need to share more of the pain suffered by decreased spending in revenue limit schools, whether or not property tax revenue will level off or even decline, whether or not enrollment increases to the point where properties currently generating rental income will need to be used instead to house district students, or even if, with increased enrollment, whether or not the district can hire more teachers to keep low class sizes and electives. To manage these eventualities, the trustees have opted to make sure the district has reserves that can help cushion some of these effects. The goal is to make sure that all students in the district continue to receive a stellar education. It would not be good to expose the district to a bust scenario where hurtful cuts would need to be made to school programs and activities because reserves were used to pay for salary increases in times of economic recession.

Perhaps if the teachers took the time to review the district finances (instead of walking out of district board meetings whenever financial matters are discussed), an understanding of the district’s offer could ensue. Surely, it is an offer based on the prudent management of the district’s finances, not out of disrespect for the teachers. It would be more disrespectful to teachers and to the entire community, including students and parents, to expose the district to deficit spending and its consequences (let the state of California be your best example!)

Please stop the negative campaign tactics that have resulted in the resignation from the school board of a pillar of our community. Dave Bailard and his wife have been tremendous assets to the district, serving countless hours for zero pay and zero perks. How unfortunate it is that teachers think it OK to send letters that were both personal and inappropriate to board members.

Parents should support the school board’s prudent management of the district and urge teachers to stop this damaging campaign.

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Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Teachers are generally underpaid. Las Lomitas spent money not too long ago on new building construction that was not needed. The expenditures should focus on the classroom and on the teachers. The myth of excellence of the district covers and obscures real problems in financial management. People can quit in a huff of discouragement but those who fight on in tough times are the ones to admire most.

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Posted by Dismayed
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 8, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I have known Dave and his wife for many, many years. Both are tireless advocates for our children and schools. This is a sad, dark day for the district, and a disappointing reflection on our teachers. These "educators" are suppose to be role models for our children? How disappointing.

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Posted by Long Time Volunteer
a resident of La Entrada School
on Oct 8, 2009 at 4:50 pm

It is quite likely that we, the Las Lomitas community is to blame for this era of teacher entitlement. Look at what our volunteer parent community has contributed in the past ten years:
- State grab for money from Basic Aid? We mobilized and shot it down.
- Parcel tax increase? We campaigned and got it passed so we could afford smaller class sizes. We also worked to renew the increased tax.
- Bond acts for new classrooms, science labs, gym? We worked long hours to pass them and pay for them yearly through our property taxes. (Yet we have to fight our PE teachers and administrators for access to the gym that was paid for by OUR tax dollars!)
- Budget shortfalls? We filled them with ever increasing donations to our Foundation. (Over $1M per year for at least the last 6 years that I can remember.)
- Laptop carts, computers, smart boards, playground equipment needed? We raised the money and bought what was needed.
- PTA insurance no longer covering after school activities? We started the all volunteer Las Lomitas League to run all sports and classes.
- State funding decreased for libraries? Both PTAs started programs to directly benefit our libraries.
- No money for field trips? Again, the PTA stepped up to fill the gap with parent donations.
Are you getting the picture? In short, whenever our schools have asked, this community has risen to the occasion.

Well this is one instance where I can truly say this donor is tired. Tired of giving without thanks, tired of teachers not meeting us halfway, tired of the lack of recognition that is takes a community to make these programs happen for our kids. Through our generosity, we have created a group of spoiled teachers. That they would then turn and implement the type of campaign that they have against our school board (who are also unpaid volunteers!) hurts more than they know.

This recession has hit our family much more than it has hit our teachers and administrators. I cannot remember when they last got a salary cut, or even a lack of a raise. There have been threats, but based on the luxury cars I see in our teacher parking lots, they appear to have weathered this storm just fine. During the deepest recession in recent history we have not cut a single teaching job - not one. I am offended at their asking for more under these circumstances. Therefore this family will be shutting our thin wallets and devoting our valuable volunteer time elsewhere until a dose of reality can been seen from the LLESD teachers and their union.

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Posted by Public School Supporter, Volunteer, Donor & Parent
a resident of La Entrada School
on Oct 8, 2009 at 7:18 pm

It's a very sad day for public education when someone as wise, rational, dedicated and intelligent as Dave Bailard is targeted by a teachers' misguided letter campaign, resulting in his resignation. The number of unpaid hours Dave has put in during the last decade for the schools is unbelievable. He started with the Foundation, creating its first database and providing great business analysis that set it off on its path to success in funding so much of what makes the Las Lomitas schools stellar. He has guided the School Board with patient and analytical business sense through many, many years of economic ups and downs. Again, all unpaid hours just trying to make education better for our children and to give education in this District a solid financial basis.

I understand that our teachers, all of whom I admire greatly for their teaching ability, but not for their understanding of some real financial basics here, make at least 20% more, on average, than teachers at other similar school districts in our area, including the Menlo Park School District. I admire the fact that our School Board has not agreed to a teacher contract that would give the teachers raises out of District reserves in these difficult economic times for many parents, and with such severe uncertainty in the future about State budget cuts.

Having volunteered, donated and supported our schools and teachers for years, this whole situation makes me incredibly sad.

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Posted by Sad and disillusioned
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Oct 8, 2009 at 11:30 pm

I also want to extend my gratitude to Dave and his wife for their incredibly generous donations of time and money to our school district. It is so incredibly sad that the Union chose a mass letter writing program -- a harsh campaign tactic perhaps suited to huge metropolitan districts where there is chronic tension between school boards, teachers, and administrators, but completely inappropriate for our little district. This is my first experience of significant discord between the different parties that work together to make our district the great place it is, and it's a shock.

The other board members received similar letters, and I offer them support as well. They may not be appreciated by the teachers, but they are appreciated by the parents! They've been doing an excellent job guiding our district through these hard times, and they know how foolish it would be to commit to higher salaries, to be paid out of reserves, when the near future of the economy (and the state) is so uncertain.

I hope that the teachers' actions don't cause a decline in parent generosity. Perhaps they've forgotten that it's the additional funding donated by parents that has kept the schools in such good shape. They may think they're asking the Board for a raise, but that money would come from funds donated by parents to make up for what state and local revenues don't supply. If the pay raise goes through, I'm sure parents would be asked (again) to increase their donations to LLEF. If LLEF fundraising is less successful, the school district would probably have to lay off teachers and cut programs. How many teachers are selfish enough to chose a bigger salary at the cost of some of their peers losing their jobs?

Parents often discuss how insulated our children are from "real life". Now I'm wondering if the teachers are suffering from that insulation as well. Don't they know what it's like for most teachers across the state? They're not in a power position: with all the advantages of the Las Lomitas district, including the current higher than average salaries, it would be no problem to replace teachers who are foolish enough to quit because they didn't get another raise -- during a recession! A number of the peninsula's laid off teachers are looking for work on local nanny job boards. Certainly there aren't many equivalent spots available at other schools, no matter how good a resume looks with Las Lomitas experience on it.

In the 5 years we've had kids in the district, our family has donated tens of thousands of dollars, to LLEF and directly to the schools to fund class projects, field trip fees and bus expenses, classroom books and supplies, library improvements, and other teacher requests. We're not likely to maintain our giving if we know we're supporting teacher raises instead of school programs. Just like the little neighborhood off the Alameda wanting to move into our district, the teachers are asking for too much at the wrong time. I think it's great that the district is already able to pay higher salaries to our wonderful teachers, and I think teachers are undervalued in our economy. But it's stupid to push for more money in the current economy. Talk about killing the goose who lays the golden eggs!

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Posted by Concerned
a resident of La Entrada School
on Oct 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I am also deeply saddened to hear of Dave Bailard's resignation from the LLESD Board. Over the years, I have seen Dave at many school events, not only as a school board representative but also as a caring and dedicated volunteer and parent. I have only seen a small portion of the countless and tireless hours Dave has dedicated to our schools but even that small amount is a staggering number. I feel terrible that these letters, whatever their content, left him with no alternative than resign from the Board. His fiscal knowledge and sound judgement will be sorely missed in these financially trying times.

Our small district has much to celebrate. We have hard working, dedicated teachers, involved and generous parents, and a group of children who thrive on challenges and actually want to learn. We also have a hard working school board and administration who is rightfully holding strong to their fiscal responsibilities. Protecting our reserves in these uncertain times is a must if we care about preserving the excellent educational experience for our kids and future generations. Hopefully the teachers will come to realize that keeping LLESD fiscally sound is to their benefit as well.

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Posted by Upset at Teachers
a resident of La Entrada School
on Oct 11, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I have a few issues with the teacher's letter writing campaign.
1. Where do the teachers come off sending letters to homes? Would they like to have parents sending mail campaigns to their homes?
What kind of strategy is the union giving them to cross the line of personal vs. business. Stupid.
2. I spend lots of time volunteering for the school district. I see the teachers not willing to help outside their own classrooms, not appreciate that the community has to pick up the slack financially and then come back in the middle of a recession and ask for more. Whoever is giving them union advice ought to resign, not school board members.
3. As a show of support for parent's rights and to show teachers what it is like to 'want' to work for a community and not a contract: I will NOT be giving any money this year to the foundation. It is not the foundation's fault but its time the teachers have to deal with REAL financial problems and let that put risk into their jobs. NO ONE is so good they aren't replaceable. I am sure we can find good, hungry, willing teachers willing to work for current salaries provided by our district. In fact, I KNOW we can.
4. The teachers have surfaced the real problem here in the district. The fabulous parent support over the past decade has created a monster of sorts. The spoiled teachers, the endless programs to help teachers in the school have created an environment of 'out of this world perspective'. Let the teachers realize what real life is like when their jobs are at risk (like so many other teachers in the state) and they don't have the option for a RAISE, much less a job.
5. The teachers should send an immediate apology to the board members for going over the line. They should fire whoever is advising them from the union and they should be happy with what they have.
I want to hear from the teacher's at this point. I am going to make my opinions known to the school board.

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Posted by community member
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Oct 11, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Las Lomitas District teachers are among the best paid teachers in CA and CA teachers salaries are usually the highest in the nation. EdSource regularly publishes comparisons of school districts throughout the state. Check out the information with that publication.

Las Lomitas School District consistently ranks as one of the districts with the very highest paid teachers in California - sometimes showing up as the district with the highest salary for teachers. Typically, districts with a high school top the salary schedules as they hire teachers for AP math and science classes who also have a very high number of student contacts each day, teaching up to 6 sections of a subject with an average of 30 students in each section.

Las Lomitas salaries even top private school salaries - and private schools have dramatically raised those salaries over the past decade.

Salaries in most professions are dictated by the market. Teaching is not any different. Las Lomitas salaries are at the top. The Las Lomitas teachers should be aware of the support they have received from the administrators, School Board and parent community for decades. Many parents would be delighted to have the job security and benefits of the district teachers.

Dave Bailard has shared his talents and professional skills to help the district have solid financial footing - especially important in these uncertain financial times. If the district's finances falter, teachers can find other jobs. The community still is responsible for their schools.

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Posted by Watching for what happens next
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Oct 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Upset at Teachers intends not to make a donation this year. At first, I was worried about the damage to the schools if this is a general response. On second thought, lay-off notices have to be sent by the middle of March. So holding back donations until April will leave the district uncertain of its finances [sorry about that, board members], meaning more teachers will get lay off notices. It's unfortunate that due to union rules, the first to be laid off will be the most recently hired, instead of some horrible old alligator who's just waiting for retirement benefits and has stopped putting any effort into teaching. Even so, perhaps it's just what the teachers need: a bit more exposure to risk so they will be more aware of (and grateful for) how good they have it.

Intending to make their pay-raise appeals more effective, the teachers worked to make them "personal", including sending them to board members' homes. That was invasive and intimidating. What if a few hundred dedicated parents tracked down the teachers' home addresses and mailed each teacher 200-300 personal letters? I hope contemplating that scenario helps the teachers understand how far they trespassed. Those letters are probably in the public record, since they relate to District business issues. I've heard a few of them were rude or offensive -- bet those particular teachers are feeling stupid (and worried) now. If I had the time, I'd love to read them and send them back with corrections. I've been shocked at how sloppy some teachers are with grammar, punctuation and spelling. Some of the newer, particularly young teachers haven't learned some of the very basic rules of English and continue making common pop-culture errors. It's "its", not "it's", when you're using the possessive. And go back and review that whole thing about when to use I versus me, e.g. "Sue is giving Mary and I a ride to the mall." Wrong!

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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 13, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I am surprised by the actions of the teachers at Las Lomitas and La Entrada.Given the worse financial crisis in the country's history since the Great Depression , how dare they ask for a raise? Most parents of Las Lomitas and La Entrada students did not get a raise last year.

The problem at the District starts with Eric Hartwig and goes through both schools. Eric lives a life of entitlement as the Head of Las Lomitas School District. His lack of direction, focus and leadership sets the tone for the Teacher's Union to believe they could have written the letters to the Board.

How dare the LE and LL teachers think they deserve a raise? Have they read the newspapers lately?

If anything, the Board, PTA and Volunteers should scale back the amount of money they give. This might wake up the whole gang at The Los Lomitas School District.

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Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of La Entrada School
on Oct 14, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I don't know Dave Bailard personally but but all accounts he was a dedicated school board member, who should be thanks for his many years of service. It the teachers wrote him a lot of letters, well, that's part of what comes with being a public servant, people will try to influence your vote. If there was anything illegal or inappropriate Bailard should bring it up with the state department of education or, if the letter was threatening, local law enforcement officials. We live in a civil society, there are rules to be followed.

I think the first thing we should do is dial back on the outrage and see if we can work things out. Yes, we pay our teachers well, and are justifiably proud of our district's test scores. We're always happy to note our high salaries when trying to lure top educators from other districts, notably Redwood City. But I think it's disingenuous to be shocked -- shocked -- that the teachers would try to negotiate more money for themselves when a contract is up for renewal. When those of us who work in the private sector and have a good year, or several years in a row, we appreciate a few extra dollars in our paycheck as tangible recognition of our good performance. The teachers who were drawn to Las Lomitas by the smart kids, high octane parents and good salaries are exactly the kind of performers we want educating our kids, and yes, they have bills to pay too.

To be sure, the economic times are not good, and the teachers would do well to not kill the goose that lays the golden egg. If the district is going to open its books so teachers can see the financial situation, they should pay attention, take good notes, and be reasonable. The Foundation money has been a wonderful way to keep class sizes small and pay for extras, but the district shouldn't count on that money every year, nor should the teachers.

I sincerely hope that cooler heads can prevail on both sides. Given that the teachers' union was a strong supporter of President Obama, and he carried the district by something north of 75% in the Presidential election, it's safe to assume that on most matters, teachers, parents and administrators share similar political views. Instead of lobbing outrage and insults back and forth, the sides should take a deep breath and negotiate a deal that gives the teachers due credit for delivering those top test scores, but also recognizes that we're two years into the worst recession in over 50 years, so maybe now isn't the time to go for the jugular when it comes to seeking a raise. Can we all calm down and work this out peacefully, and set a good example for all those bright and shining La Entrada renaissance kids?

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Posted by Annoyed
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Oct 14, 2009 at 4:56 pm

It's been a week since we got the news of the letter-writing campaign. I have yet to hear that the teachers or their union have in any way acknowledged their faux pas. To the commentor above, school business mail for board members is directed to the District office. It's an invasion of privacy, and a violation of the directory's terms of use, for teachers to use the school directories to look up parents' address FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES. An analagous situation would be for parents to contact a teacher at his/her own home to lobby for a better grade for their student. You also say "if the district is going to open its financial books for the teachers" -- that budget information is public information and is discussed at every board meeting. It's also available upon request at the district office.

You ask that cooler heads prevail, and go into a meaningless comparison of voting patterns from the Presidential election. Who voted for what is utterly irrelevant to the teachers' demand for a raise. No information has been released to indicate they have dropped their demand. Parents are using this forum, appropriately, to share their positions on the letter campaign and the demand for a raise. Most people are aligned in saying that this is not an appropriate year for a raise and we don't want the board to grant one. The teachers chose to up the pressure by violating the public/private boundaries of the elected school board members. The board has been holding steady that the district doesn't have the cash flow for the raises. Instead of looking at the situation realistically, the union decided to light a fire under the board members. Guess what. It touched off a firestorm and the teachers are getting some blow back.

The teachers need to acknowledge their major error and accept accountabity for the damage they've already done to the schools, meaning the loss of Dave Bailard from the board. They should apologize to parents for being so arrogant and demanding, as they were counting on taking that money right out of our pockets. And each family will have to make their own decision whether or not to give LLEF any donation this year.

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Posted by La Entrada parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 14, 2009 at 7:50 pm

The teachers in the district, as most if not all of CA, do receive regular raises, even if the union-district negotiations don't provide a publicised raise.

Salary schedules have a step and column matrix - meaning teachers receive raises for each year of experience in addition to credit for their course work. When this is added to the increased cost of benefits, teachers always receive an increase in salary.

In this economic environment, raises are not the norm in professions other than teaching.

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Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of La Entrada School
on Oct 15, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Being Annoyed is probably not the most productive way to negotiate with a strong union, nor are calls for public apologies for being "arrogant." Some teachers pushed it too far but if we want creative and passionate educators teaching our kids, sometimes they'll push the edge of the envelope and make a mistake, especially about high stakes issues like raises. Instead of emotional criticism about the teachers being ingrates, we should invite them back to the negotiating table, and maybe engage a mediator if talks are breaking down. Talks break down between unions and management all the time, so why all the name calling? It's just dollars and cents, let's get outside help if necessary and not lose our composure.

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Posted by Annoyed
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Oct 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm

The "Las Lomitas Parent" (or perhaps a teacher/parent?) who posted above seems not to know much about the tenor of the union's on-going negotiation. The teachers' union is so intractable that they will no longer negotiate. They have called in a state mediator to break the "impasse" (further bleeding money out of the district via legal expenses); meanwhile, they whine about the demoralization of working without a contract for a year.

The facts: there is an underlying contract that is in effect year after year -- they are NOT working without a contract. At each negotiating period, either side can open up terms of the contract for re-negotiation. Last year the union demanded raises which the school board deemed excessive. The school board has done an excellent job of managing finances through a dismal and chaotic economy. The union wants pay increases over fiscal responsibility, and they feel entitled to take that money from the reserves. They are stonewalling, thinking that raising the stakes will get them what they want. The union could reconsider their stand and conclude the negotiations at any time. They are the ones who have taken this issue from behind closed doors into the public, so they have bought themselves the public's reactions.

Many teachers stood up at the school board meeting last night to assert their right to send letters to the school board. They say they're demoralized because they work so hard for our kids and they aren't supported by the district or parents (in spite of evidence to the contrary). It's sad to see how they are sublimating their own experiences to the rhetoric of the California Teachers Association. If they instead followed the advice often given to people experiencing downsizing, to focus on the good things they have and appreciate them, instead of getting suckered into the CTA's larger political motives (as mentioned above, pushing LLESD's salaries higher in order to push the ceiling for salaries statewide higher), they might be a bit happier.

Is there another school district where they can get jobs as sweet? Of course not, especially as pay is closely linked to the number of years in a district. Are they improving their own lives by fighting for a raise during a recession? No, but they are putting at risk the special relationships between the parent community, the schools, and the school board which have provided great benefits to all over the years. Our little district hasn't needed union strong-arm tactics before, we've worked together cooperatively. Bringing big-league union politics into play has created a division that hurts everyone. They believe the union has the power to force what they want, but here's one thing they can't force: how much money is donated by parents each year.

The volunteer board of the LLEF, which works very hard to maximize parent donations and other sources of revenue, provides the discretionary funds that are used (among other things) for high teacher salaries and small class sizes. Their fundraising pitch depends on parents being happy with the school and valuing the "extras" enough to continue paying for them. I have little sympathy for the teachers saying they are not appreciated, in the face of the 1.4 million dollars donated last year: direct support from parents for the teachers and the programs they run. Rather, the evidence indicates the teachers don't appreciate their jobs and their benefits and the support of the community. They have so much -- to be unthankful for?

The teachers are indeed killing the golden-egg laying goose. They have already cost the school district a phenomenal board member and the generous volunteer commitments of himself and his wonderful wife. The teachers are aggressively defending their right to send letters to board members, but they are not acknowledging what a bad choice it was, or accepting responsibility for losing the district a board member. (More waste of public money: holding a special election to replace Mr. Bailard). They are choosing to interpret the state-wide economic collapse as a lack of support for themselves. And they are deeply offending the parents who have made a special effort for years to fund the things that have made LLESD special. In the end, that is where they will get their pay-back: donations via the LLEF will plummet and the district will have no choice but to cut programs and send out pink slips. You might lose your job, and the kids would have a less beneficial environment for a year or more. But it's not that complicated to resurrect programs and hire new teachers, if parents chose to increase their donations again. Rebuilding the beneficial relationships between all the players is what may be hardest.

The union president has made more than one strategic error. It's a mistake to encourage your union members to be dissatisfied when they have one of the best deals in the state. It's a mistake to think you can force extra money out of a system that depends on discretionary donations. And it's a big mistake to forget where those donations come from.

We have no obligation to volunteer or give the schools additional funding. Don't mislead yourselves that we're going to support this spoiled demand. You have plenty to be thankful for and you should make do for a year or two, as so many other Californians are having to do. And you are always free to find a better job.

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Posted by Union Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 16, 2009 at 7:04 am

Every union, by its nature, is entitlement oriented. That the LL teacher's association moves in a manner that appears disconnected with the economic reality of the State or the district should not be a huge surprise.

The issue before the teachers is how they should recover from this obvious gaffe. As a member of a different union, I offer my perspective and advice.

The Association developed a strategy for this negotiation. They may have done so in concert with the CTA. That strategy has failed. It is now time to regroup and recover. They should:

* Replace their leadership (I am sure they have by-laws which will let them do so).
* Elect moderate voices who can repair the relationships between the Board, and perhaps more importantly, the parents who donate to the Foundation.
* Reassess their contract demands, perhaps asking for an MOU with a shorter term (2 year?) which improves other areas of interest: medical, retirement, vacation, holiday, sick time, etc.
* Go after salary increases in a future MOU when, hopefully, the economy has the District in a situation where they can afford to responsibly provide them.

The Association's leadership and negotiating team has damaged their ability to reach a new agreement. It's time to start over. New team. New strategy.

To those parents who are willing to throw the baby out with the bath water, I believe it's time for some perspective. Unions seek salary increases. The issue is not that the Teachers Association wanted a salary increase, it's how they went about seeking their demand.

Withholding our generous donations and volunteer time stands to hurt our children more than the Teacher's Association.

A Los Lomitas public school education, supplemented with Foundation donations, is more cost effective than the private school alternative. The district's reputation also serves to keep our property values high.

Sending a message that we are incensed over this breach of trust is appropriate. They screwed up and they need to understand that their tactic not only failed, but caused damage.

It's time, however, to take the high road and find another way to make our feelings known. Cutting funding and volunteer time targets the wrong group.

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Posted by Still waiting for teachers to acknowledge their error...
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Oct 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Union Parent, thanks for your input on unions and our teachers' recent flub. I am still angry and withholding my donation because I have yet to see any acknowledgement from the teachers that they made a mistake which has damaged relations with parents.

Hearing the teachers defend their right to send letters to board members was really disheartening. They were in defensive mode, standing strong behind a principle instead of assessing the damage done. They feel justified in making their demands, and I truly think we have spoiled them too much in recent years. When kids whine and demand in the face of the materially-rich lives they live around here, it's clearly time to cut back and focus on the basics. It works: when you set a firm boundary about what they can and cannot have, they move on from the endless want/demand cycle and learn a bit more about reality and being grateful for what they have. It's time for the teachers to face reality, too: we appreciate their dedication in teaching our kids, and we try to reward them with generous salaries, class room gifts (Apples for the Teacher, etc.) and volunteer work. They're indulging in the luxury of feeling dissatisfied with the excellent salary and benefits they receive. Maybe an in-service day at a school in RWC or EPA might help them appreciate what they have and stop them whining for more.

I'm not bothered by the idea of belt-tightening for a year or so. The specter of budget cuts, more crowded classrooms, fewer enrichment programs, etc. has been raised every year. It's ok with me for our schools to experience that: we will all be more appreciative if/when the budget can be restored to what it's been for the past few years.

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Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 22, 2009 at 5:58 pm

I'm feeling disappointed in the teacher community that we have strived to never disappoint. Like other parents I wonder why we try so hard... and I also feel great appreciation and empathy for the Board families that have taken the heat in the face of personal sacrifice. Thank yopu for your time and talent.

I hope this can be resolved in a way that gives everyone closure. In the meantime, I too wothold my donation.

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Posted by Offended and Deeply Disappointed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 31, 2009 at 4:13 am

Our family has had the privilege of being associated with the Las Lomitas School District for nearly twenty years. During that time, we served in a number of volunteer capacities. We believe in the intrinsic value of public education and the Los Lomitas District, in particular.

I am deeply offended and disappointed by the actions of the teachers who participated in the letter writing campaign to district board members' homes. Being a board member is a particularly daunting and time consuming task. Stepping up to the position is a true labor of love and service to the school district, students and parents. The weight of ensuring sound fiscal management, quality education and prudent oversight of personnel requires intelligent, thoughtful analysis and patience. While board membership surely brings satisfaction, it is also thankless in many respects. We have lost a true servant in David Bailard and have seen a complete lack of appreciation for his service and that of his wife, Laurie. The other board members' services have been disregarded as well.

The teachers' letter writing campaign was intimidating, thoughtless and exhibits poor professional judgment. I can only imagine how shocking it would be to receive demanding, scripted letters from teachers which also contained personal references to my children, their students.

In addition to the teachers' failure to negotiate in good faith, they have failed in one of their core responsibilities to serve as role models for their students. The teachers' actions have not been lost on parents, students and the community-at-large. It is truly unfortunate that a few "ring leaders" and the union have drawn their colleagues into a misguided and dead-end tactic.

I strongly support the district's school board in taking the responsible position to protect the district's reserves. It is clear that we don't yet know the extent to which budget and economic pressures will strain the district's fiscal well-being. It could be years. We need responsible teachers who will take the time to educate themselves about current fiscal realities. We need teachers who will recognize that we are all in this together. It has taken a "village" to create a stellar school district. Unfortunately, by their actions, the teachers have broken trust and become the weak link in the Las Lomitas community.

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Posted by No Thanks
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I onced wanted my kids to go to your schools; no thanks after learning more. You can have your good api scores and all your union teachers fancy suv's and creative budget analysis.

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Posted by Educator
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Feb 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm

I am sure all this union teacher bashing is doing alot of good.

You got a rich school district with good performance (one of the best everyone brags (real estate agents, superintendents, admins, parents, etc.)) and with the average home on the peninsula over a million, what do you expect your teachers to be treated? Paid like a average teachers? At least the teachers are doing something good for your spoiled rotten kids.

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Posted by anomynous
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:46 am

I am researching schools for my kids and found your school. On the surface the numbers look good. Good community and lots of giving and good test scores. But as I got more informed and talked to many parents and educators, no thanks. Besides your lots are too small.

You folks in LLSD Menlo Park seem way too out of touch with the real world.

First of all there is a reason why there's a teacher's union. It's to protect their interests, not yours or your kids. This model is conflicting when it comes to rewarding the teachers with limited budgets. In good (bubble) times, when property values are skyrocketing over night this model works great. No one cares, plenty of tax dollars to go around. Stock options are worth alot, people (with their corporate gifts) showing off their success in fundraisers and donations.

In bad or flat times, guess what? This model breaks down. You have your "programmed" system cranking out great test scores with a powerful union labor workforce that is teaching your kids. I feel for the teachers actually since they have worked hard to get this school to where it is; a great number cranking machine. But in bad times, the kids pay. Imagine coming to work to teach after reading this thread. Hmmm, no thanks I want my kids in a private school where the model truly works. There is no conflict in good or bad times. Yes, they are strapped too with budgets but it truly is a team effort and everyone gives; include the people at the top. I see the teachers at these private schools extremely happy yet way underpaid for their qualifications and experience. Yes, I would be proud to donate my money and volunteer there as there is no doubt on their commitment; my kids. Ask any business owner or executive dealing with union work force. Draeger's in your city has union labor force, ask the owners and mgt. I have nothing against unions building my cars or packing my groceries, but I hate to negotiate wages hard if my kids are at stake.

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