Letters to the Editor, Jan. 6: Hansen was a caring, community-focused individual


Hansen was a caring, community-focused individual

To the Editor,

Tarmo, thank you for your heartfelt op-ed memorializing your feelings about Richard Hansen (Register-Pajaronian, Jan. 2, 2018) who, very unexpectedly, recently passed on. I have experienced many years of his friendship, especially when I was involved with the Watsonville Air Show, and I can’t think of a more caring, community-focused individual.

He leaves a tremendous void. I just wished that we would express our feelings about those we care about well before they have no way of appreciating them before it is too late.

Theo Wierdsma

Corralitos

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Supervisors should repeal their own automatic pay increases

To the Editor,

I am circulating a Referendum Petition right now to repeal automatic annual pay increases for the Board of Supervisors and here is why.

The County Board of Supervisors recently voted to approve an automatic cost of living pay raise for themselves for the next four years with the approval of Ordinance 5256. Supervisor Greg Caput cast the lone “no” vote. This was after giving themselves a 5.18 percent salary increase, along with other middle management raises of 3-5.5 percent, and a one-time signing bonus of $250 for each middle management employee, including themselves. County Supervisors are paid $150,000-$169,000 including benefits, according to Transparent California website data.

Many local teachers, health care workers and lower level county workers have not had a cost of living raise in years. Due to increased CalPERS retirement funding that will be required of local government, the county is facing looming budget deficits of $4-$9 million in the future, and that is provided the Board cuts $10 million from the budget every year for the next two or three years. In five years, the ratio of active employees to retirees in the county will be 1:1. 

With this financial time-bomb waiting to implode the local governments, do you feel it is good leadership for County Supervisors to grant themselves such significant pay raises and an automatic increase every year for four years into the future? I don’t. That is why I am circulating a Referendum Petition to repeal Ordinance 5256 that grants them such. I feel it is fiscally irresponsible for the County Supervisors to approve these gifts for themselves at a time when many workers are struggling to make ends meet with no cost of living raise and there is grave financial deficit predicted in two years for the county budget. I also feel the Supervisors need to be more accountable to the people with a performance evaluation every year, not just by running for re-election every four years. This could easily be accomplished during regular ballot elections.

Please contact me if you would like to sign this Referendum Petition by email at [email protected] or phone at 685-2915. 

Becky Steinbruner

Aptos

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New Year’s Resolutions for PVUSD

To the Editor,

1. End the bitter labor struggle with the teacher’s union and move forward with improving employee relations. Morale is low and it definitely affects students and their academic progress. Put aside your bruised egos for a moment, realize that a stalemate is not a victory, but replete with casualties of teachers and students alike.

2. Start recruiting for next year’s teaching staff. Many teachers have resigned to the fact that they will be teaching somewhere else next year. The hiring bonuses and pay increases are enticing some of our best talent who must keep their best interests in mind. Ensure that you hire plenty of qualified, bilingual teachers. Then, and only then, will you be able to properly implement your district-wide bilingual plan and bring to fruition your unanimous support for Prop. 58.

3. Hiring freeze on employee positions that don’t directly impact the classroom. New hires should prioritize classroom aides, language tutors and classroom teachers. District administration continues to hire staff to make their own jobs easier without placing much priority on teaching and learning.

4. Practice fiscal transparency. Your superintendent and public information officer must deal with facts and not assumptions, projections or beliefs. All of these can be muddied. Liars figure and figures lie.

5. Watch the watchers. Instead of following art teachers and bus drivers around for a day, follow site administrators to see what they go through on a daily basis or don’t. Ensure that they are also giving 110 percent of their time, focus and energy. Surprise them with an unplanned visit. I suggest you start with Adult Education. How does she run a campaign and devote 110 percent of her time, energy and focus when she’s also running a campaign and on the Watsonville City Council? Hmmm.

6. If you’re going to have a change within your cabinet, search for quality replacements. The PVUSD “Loyalty Rewards Program” within the district promotes longevity and loyalty over competence and ability. You can stray from the business model practiced within society. Our students can’t afford to be guinea pigs in an educational system that practices reforms without accountability, longitudinal research and teacher support.

7. Abandon tech-heavy solutions. The afterschool catch-up program relies too heavily on technology. Teachers become babysitters and students often stray from their intended goals while on their computers. An over-reliance on technology throughout the day is turning students into zombies. We need to get back to the basics that made us successful before the advent of the personal computer. Paper and pen, books and more books! 

8. Broadcast and record all future board meetings so that those who can’t attend meetings can view them and decide for themselves what kind of statements board members are making on a variety of issues.

The PVUSD Board of Trustees can add more. This is a running start for them to consider.

Abel Mejia

PVUSD teacher

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