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Re: In split vote, Fallbrook Union Elementary board approves raises for superintendent, other administrators [Village News website, 1/24/20]

 

Last updated 2/2/2020 at 5:41pm



I am disappointed by the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District’s 4-1 decision Jan. 21, to not separate agenda item V.2. Action: Salary Increase for Management, Confidential and Unrepresented Employees into separate items for voting. Having done so would have provided the transparency and accountability required to make the fiscally and ethically responsible decisions these items deserve. The manner in which this decision was made is very concerning.

As a result, our superintendent was given yet another salary increase of 4%, resulting in the second raise in as little as seven months for 9% and costing our students’ education nearly $30,000 between the two.

With a salary of $327,453 before the latest increase, Superintendent Candace Singh is already one of the highest paid superintendents in San Diego and Riverside counties, despite FUESD being among the smallest districts in the region with 5,043 students.

Before the increase, she was already earning about $60,000 more than the superintendent of the largest school district in the region, Temecula Valley Unified, which has 29,609 students and includes three high schools, six middle schools and 17 elementary schools, as well as six alternative schools.

In comparison, FUESD has one junior high school, two K-8 schools, five elementary schools and a home-school academy between Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton. With benefits, Singh is costing our students $78 each, whereas Temecula Valley’s students pay about $11 each for their superintendent.

What are the trustees’ priorities? How will this expenditure benefit our struggling students? Fallbrook STEM and La Paloma test scores indicate that we need to put more resources in classrooms for more support staff and smaller class sizes. This concern was not addressed in the meeting Jan. 21, and the trustees opposed discussing these items, preferring instead to take a swift vote.

The only trustee who attempted to open up discussion on these matters that require transparency and prudence was Trustee Caron Lieber. This lack of transparency is troublesome. I had filled out a comment card to speak during the open agenda, yet was not called to speak.

Additionally, the notice for the board meeting on the FUESD website described the meeting as being “tentative” up until the day of the meeting, which could have discouraged participation from the public.

Let’s think with the end in mind and set up our students for success. I would ask that Superintendent Singh give our students a break and follow Bonsall Unified School District’s Superintendent David Jones’ example by respectfully turning down this offer and any additional increases.

It’s great that our district is in the black, but we need to think first-things-first and use these resources responsibly and creatively to get all of our schools to perform at grade level.

Finally, I want to thank Trustee Caron Lieber for her consistency in being a voice of courage, accountability, equity and common sense on these matters which mean so much to our families, students and our district.

Ricardo Favela

Maie Ellis parent

Editor’s note: The referred to article first appeared on the Village News website before being printed in this week’s issue, page A-1.

 

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