Being Marsha Sutton

It must be exhausting to be Marsha Sutton. Here it is May 2017, and she is still upset about Rick Schmitt’s salary.

At the time, his SDUHSD salary was $238,329, which was set to go up to $248,347 on July 1. At San Ramon, where he started his employment on July 1, his contracted starting salary was $309,664.

“At the time” was June 2016, nearly a year ago. Rick Schmitt doesn’t even work for SDUHSD any more, and she spends half of her column about him and his salary?

This $6.5 million expense for salaries and benefits across the board will continue each subsequent year. (These figures, however, do not take into account the number of highly paid veteran employees who are retiring.)

“All those highly-paid veteran teachers, with their free apples and all!”

No one would have objected to a reasonable contracted salary increase.

I call bullshit. I think Marsha Sutton would have objected to any settlement with the teacher’s association that didn’t result in teachers being flogged in public.

Schmitt said the district has a history of being fiscally conservative, and that there is money to pay for these raises well into the future, based on healthy reserves, conservative assumptions and realistically rosy projections.

Even if all that is true, which is suspect, did the raises need to be so high, at 12.5 percent?

“Here is someone who knows what they are talking about. But even if they do, I’m going to ignore it. Why do raises need to be so high? Oh, you just explained that? Wait, where am I?”

Assuming scads of cash were just lying around, as Schmitt claimed, could at least some of it have been spent on hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes? More security? The arts? Relieving parents of the pressure to donate to foundations to fund classroom essentials?

Given the tragedy at Torrey Pines High School last week, how about additional counselors?

Did you REALLY just suggest that raises for teachers (“scads of cash”) led, even indirectly, to a 15-year-old’s suicide? Fuck you. I’m done being clever here. Marsha, go get some help, and let the professionals in school districts do what they do best. And you go do whatever it is you do best. I don’t know what that is, but it has nothing to do with writing or education.

On Boards and Bullshit

From Parents urge SDUHSD Board to hire a superintendent to revamp special education:

Board member John Salazar recommended that a permanent hiring not take place until after the November election so that if a new board member is elected, that person could have input in the selection process because the incoming board member person would have to work with the new superintendent. (Two board positions will be up for election this November — that of Board member Joyce Dalessandro and Board president Beth Hergesheimer).

This is exactly the same “reasoning” used by Senate Republicans who are refusing to even consider filling the open seat on the Supreme Court until President Obama’s term in office is over. They hope that a Republican will be elected, and then they can appoint some right-wing activist judge to the court. It’s pure, naked politics without a hint of a rational justification. It’s bullshit when Senate Republicans do it, and it’s bullshit when John Salazar does it.

Notice that Salazar’s seat is not up for election in November. He is hoping that either one or both of the seats available will go to (a) someone ideologically motivated like him or (b) someone easily influenced like Muir. If that’s the case, then the San Dieguito school board, which has been a model of effective advocacy for students and education for over twenty years, will devolve into a partisan political shitshow that is more interested in destroying public education and public employee unions than in providing a first-class education for students. And at the center of it will be John Salazar and his hand-picked superintendent.

John Salazar’s Very Bad Idea

Karen Billing, Del Mar Times, April 28:

San Dieguito Union High School District board discusses term limits


There are bad ideas: deciding to paint your house purple, vacationing in Nebraska, taking stock advice from your brother-in-law. There are pretty bad ideas: drivin703944551g without wearing your seat belt, insulting a Hell’s Angel to his face, eating the spoiled food from the back of the fridge. And then there are Very Bad Ideas. The Very Bad Idea we will be considering today comes from a San Dieguito Union High School District trustee, John Salazar, and its name is Term Limits.

Term Limits has been a popular topic in the United States since the 1980s, usually proposed by self-described “populists” who want to return government to “the people”. Whether or not it has been initiated in good faith, the result everywhere it has been tried has been disastrous for “the people”. Term Limits removes expertise and institutional memory from governmental bodies just when it can be of use, leaving instead neophyte or dilettante office-holders with no knowledge or experience of the job they have been asked to do.

The most charitable interpretation of a Term Limits proposal is that it is a genuine attempt to include more people in leadership. A more cynical interpretation is that Term Limits is an attempt to force turnover in an elected body that cannot be achieved by honest campaigning. An even more suspicious interpretation is that Term Limits is a deliberate attempt to hamstring an elected body and prevent it from doing its work effectively, thus demonstrating the correctness of a core belief that government does not and cannot work.

I leave it up to you to reach your own interpretation. My conclusion is that Term Limits is a Very Bad Idea.

Remedial English Class

Thomas K. Arnold, in the Seaside Courier, April 26:

Superintendent Schmitt Leaving San Dieguito Union High School District


I would like to suggest that Arnold, and possibly Trustee Muir, might benefit from spending some time in an English class in one of the San Dieguito middle schools. Things they might learn there:

Muir said she was a bit taken aback by Schmitt’s sudden departure.

“I’m happy for anyone who meets their personal professional goals,” she said. “However, I’m very concerned with the financial challenge our superintendent has left the district with in paying for contractual obligations with no cost containment and it’s indirect impacts on class size, educational amenities, etc.”

(1) The correct usage of the contraction “it’s” as opposed to the possessive pronoun “its”.

(2) Using specific details to back up your arguments, instead of fear-mongering empty words like “no cost containment”, “indirect impacts”, “educational amenities”, and “etc.”

Schmitt’s annual base pay would have spiked to $248,347 on July 1. His executive assistant on that date will see her annual base salary top out at $99,673, while a maintenance supervisor will earn an annual salary of as much as $101,849.

(3) Choosing the right descriptive word for a particular sentence, including using online resources like to choose a word that accurately conveys your meaning.


(4) Editing and revising your work to remove details that do not have any relevance to your point, like the salary of maintenance workers in a story about the superintendent.

Some trustees claim the deal was sprung on them with just 24 hours to review, having been negotiated by Schmitt and his team and the San Dieguito Faculty Association…

(5) Using specific language (“Trustees Muir and Salazar”) rather than vague generalities (“Some trustees”).

(6) Checking facts rather than simply reporting claims. Were those trustees accurate in claiming the deal was “sprung” on them? Or are they, in fact, not telling the truth? (Actually, this topic might be covered in a “Reporting 101” class rather than a middle-school English class. Still…)


If Arnold (or Muir) would like to spend some time in one of those classes, I believe they could arrange that by contacting the Superintendent of SDUHSD. I recommend doing so before July 1.