Paso Robles educators and administrators at impasse

February 13, 2013
Kathleen McNamara

Kathleen McNamara


On Tuesday, teachers and district officials met with a State Mediator in attempts to resolve the current bargaining impasse. No agreement was reached.

“We tried hard to find a compromise,” explained Jim Lynett, Executive Director of Paso Robles Public Educators (PRPE). “At one point we offered to agree to three non-instructional furlough days next year,” according to Lynett. The district continued to say no.

The District currently boasts a robust surplus thanks to eighteen furlough days taken by employees since March 2012.

Students have lost nearly three weeks of instruction over the last year according to Paso High history teacher, Robert Skinner.

According to a recent press release from Superintendent Dr. Kathleen McNamara district reserves are at 5.4 percent. The state required minimum is 3 percent.

At the end of the day, PRPE proposed a full school year for students and staff for next year (2013-14) and restoration of teacher salaries.

The School District’s response and final proposal was to return to a 180 day student year; a two day reduction in the teachers’ work year; a cut in teacher salaries of 4.86 percent (for a total reduction of over 5.5 percent) ;and, a reduction in contributions for retiree medical benefit for those not yet eligible for MediCare.

PRPE requested the mediator certify the impasse to fact-finding and is expecting an affirmative reply.


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Only work 180 days for 70k BOOM Like winning the lottery!!!!

Seventy grand is not the average salary for teachers in PR. You don’t reach that level of the payscale until you’ve put in 20+ years in the same district. But if you think that teaching is such a gravy train, by all means, get your BA/BS and teaching credential, survive your part-time and full-time student teaching, and climb aboard.

You need to contact The Tribune who published on January 11, 2012 “The average teacher salary in Paso Robles is $70,000 a year.”

They also stated in the same article that the district pays 91% of their $54 million budget for salaries and benefits. Don’t you think you should leave something for the kid’s education besides teachers, like equipment, supplies, utilities for water, heat and air conditioning, phone, insurance, etc. and the other necessities of running a business?

Read more here:

Please contact The Tribune if this incorrect information.

According to a Jan. 2011 Sacramento Bee article,

the average teacher salary in PR was $66,159.

That shouldn’t be too surprising, given that teachers on

the low end of the payscale are also lowest in seniority

and more likely to be laid off.

Lost in all of the discussion are the facts of this article:

1. The school district has offered to return the student year to 180 days (teachers would work 183 days). Furloughs would be gone, but the financial issue still remains. That’s why the 4.86% salary cut is also included. That’s an improvement over the 6% equivalent reduction due to furlough days, but instead of having a furlough day off, they will now have to work. The union wanted to do away with furlough days. The school district’s offer does just that.

2. A 4.86% does not equal a 5.5% cut no matter how much new math you want to apply.

3. If the state gives the schools the huge money that the union claims will be rolling in, then there is a caveat in the offer that allows to go back and negotiate for any extra money.

4. The 5.4% reserve is a budget number, not a real cash-in-hand figure, and will change as the year goes along. Most districts have a 10% reserve. The state requires a minimum of 3%. In these economic times, only a fool would have 3%, or think that 5.4% was robust.

5. Paso school district is the only school district in this county that pays 100% of retiree benefits, which is over $10,000 per retiree. How long did the union think this would be able to go on?

6. Some people want to focus on the $1.5 million error that was found by Mrs. McNamara’s administration. They want to blame her for finding it. But they don’t say anything about the fact that the state hasn’t paid any school district as much as they’re supposed to by the law. This year, it meant a $9 million shortage for Paso school district. Why isn’t the union mentioning this much more significant dollar amount?

7. And let’s be honest. Think back to when you were in school. Would seven more days in school (the actual number of student days lost in this current school year) have made any difference to your level of education? To claim otherwise is purely propaganda.

Now, let’s all move on.


I cannot believe in this economy that the district is still paying full benefits for these employees. They better not ask for a bond to help them out because I will actively protest and make sure I spend this to every single person who will listen. Every employee should pay for thei retirement, half of theie medical benefits, etc. With a $70,000 average salary for most of these teachers living in Paso thisis leaving in luxury.

That’s the direction the school district is trying to move, and the unions don’t like it. Only retirees get 100% coverage. Active employees have to pay a significant portion of their benefits, just like in other businesses.

But be careful about mixing apples and oranges. School bonds are necessary to update and build facilities. Your active protest against a bond measure would be like denying your children meals because they spent their allowance on comic books.

If you want to take action, let the school board and Mrs. McNamara that you support the direction they’re moving, and offset the spin coming from the unions.


The TOP of our payscale is about $76,000, so it is virtually impossible for the average salary in our district to be $70,000, unless almost all teachers were close to maxing out their salaries, and that simply is not the case in our district or any other district, given that there is almost always a fairly even distribution of younger and older teachers at any given time. As for our “full benefits,” that’s part and parcel of our compensation, which we gained through negotiations with our district many years ago. Don’t worry–no teacher ever gets rich doing this job, despite what you may have seen on Fox News.

These comments are excellent proof that PR schools should be PRIVATIZED.

You guys DO NOT have the time, the knowledge, or the expertise to analyzed, endlessly, the business models of education, any more than you have the time to analyze the business models of Walmart or Target.

In a system of laissez-faire capitalism, you would not have to.

TGE: Please explain how introducing a profit motive to the educating of children will improve our teaching or our students’ learning.

Yes please explain how closing public schools and handing them over to people with money saves civilization from itself again.

Wasn’t Paso the district that shot themselves in the foot with that really bad BOND thing? Was that McNamara’s fault, or the dumb-ass voters who keep voting for bonds and tax increases all around? Now that PR has a crappy financial outlook, all eyes turn to the super… well, that’s part of the job, I’d hate to have it.

I do not think one superintendent’s salary / pay package is that serious. If she has scheduled increases, as most government types do, then griping about it seems pointless. We need to re-do government jobs from the bottom up, most of the compensation makes no sense and they are mostly busy with make-work. So much paperwork, most government jobs are creating paperwork, followed by disseminating paperwork, then meeting and discussing paperwork, to finally filling out paperwork. Yeah. They’re all so busy and over-worked.

From what I can glean from the series of stories on McNamara and PRJUSD is that she is pissing off the unions, which is generally a BIG GOLD STAR from me!

“Wasn’t Paso the district that shot themselves in the foot with that really bad BOND thing? Was that McNamara’s fault, or the dumb-ass voters who keep voting for bonds and tax increases all around?”

1. The “BOND thing” paid for many badly needed facility improvements at PRHS and Liberty HS. Either you believe in providing a first-class, state-of-the-art education for the youth of PR or you don’t. Your choice.

2. The bond vote preceded Dr. M.

3. PR teachers are not griping about Dr. M’s salary; we’re too busy griping about our NEGOTIATED salary being reduced due to her incompetence as a steward of district financial resources. She does not deserve a raise for her efforts since she became our super; she deserves a demotion.

4. “Yeah. They’re all so busy and over-worked.” Come teach for a week, rOy, then come back to this forum and speak from experience. We earn every scent we earn and even the scents we don’t earn these days, thanks to furlough days necessitated by a major, 1.59 million dollar screw-up that occurred on Dr. M’s watch. We’re sick of paying for their mistakes.

5. “she is pissing off the unions, which is generally a BIG GOLD STAR from me!” You have no clue how hard-working and dedicated the teachers of PR are. Please stop forming your opinions about unions based on what Fox News wants you to believe about them.

Seriously, rOy, come spend a week or even a day in our shoes at any school in the district and I guarantee you will be singing a different tune about our union as well as our positions on these issues. The bottom line for you and the rest of the community to know is this: Dr. M’s mismanagement of district financial and personnel resources has DEMORALIZED her teacher to the point that the vast majority (97% who voted) of us have lost all confidence in her to lead us and our students. However you spin it, 97% of the educators of this town cannot be wrong about her. We are correct and she needs to go ASAP.

Ana, you have to stop playing martyr regarding your job. Obviously, you have issues regarding being overworked, underpaid, not enough time off, to hard, stressful, etc. I feel sorry for you. You probably know that currently 91% of the district’s budget goes to salaries. There is only so much money available for salaries. According to an article in The Tribune in January 2011, the average teacher salary was $70,000. If you think you deserve more money, go find an easier and better paying job!

So, let’s see: 365 days a year and you work 180 full-time without furloughs (you don’t work 185 days).. Health, dental, vision insurance, plus cafeteria plans. Retirement funding matched by your district. Hours: 8:00 to 2:30 (6.5 minus lunch, recess and that is assuming you are teaching the whole time comes to around 5.5 hours – plus I am sure one day a week it is not a full work day of 5.5 hours which seems to be the standard but that will allow for the 2-3 extra hours you might put in during the week). In most cases you have an aide if you are elementary or at least parent aides correcting papers, assisting the kids, teaching the slow learner, etc

Now let’s talk about the private sector (non-government) employees working in Paso Robles. On average they work 235 days a year (10 days of vacation, 6 holidays, 104 days for weekends), 8 hours a day minimum. No health, dental, vision insurance. No with matching funds but can put their money into a 401K. According to Paso Robles website, ” Estimated median “household” income in 2009: $56,441″ which was the last year available. These employees work just as hard as you do, putting up with the public, kids, seniors, people who are unhappy, unemployed, can’t find work, can’t pay their bills, living paycheck to paycheck, sick with no insurance, can’t afford medicine, and pray everyday that they can afford gas for the car, medicine if they get sick, etc.

Don’t misunderstand me, you work hard, you put up with a little of problems, issues, troubles, etc. BUT, so does the rest of society right now and everyone is having financial issues. Government employees (teachers, cities, county, state, federal, agencies, districts, boards, etc) are just getting a little better share right now. Back off and allow the economy to recover, let the school district (along with everything) get stable and then come back in 3-5 years and see where we are.

We are far from over regarding the problems with this economic recovery and California more than any other State is in poop-land.

SLOBIRD: You have to stop showing your job envy. The traditional school year has been structured as it is for well over a century. No use in holding it against teachers that they have more time off than private sector employees. It’s one of the perks of teaching, and it is necessary for teachers and students alike to take the breaks that we do. If you don’t know why, then I invite you to give it a try for a year and find out for yourself. By the way, I have worked with many teachers over the years who came from the “hallowed” private sector and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them was struck by how much harder it is to be an effective teacher than it was to be effective in their previous job. That includes business owners, lawyers, doctors, mechanics–you name it. Anyone thinking of becoming a teacher to “take it easier” on themselves will be in for a rude awakening. Which brings us to the actual, relevant aspect of this issue: compensation.

We teachers deserve every penny that we have negotiated to earn. We willingly gave up a percentage of our salary last year and this year, through furloughs, to save the district from being taken over by the state, due to a MAJOR screwup by one or more highly-paid district-level employees. Please give me an example of someone making a 1.59 million dollar mistake who gets to keep his or her job in the private sector–besides CEOs, of course. No district administrator suffered any consequence whatsoever. Instead, the rest of us have suffered: teachers and support staff stepped up and bailed out the district. Now the district has close to 7% in reserve, well above the minimum required of a district. Furthermore, the passage of Prop 30 guarantees by law that our district will see a significant increase in funding for years to come. Yet, the district negotiators demand that we continue to take a paycut JUST IN CASE they mismanage our money again. That’s what it boils down to. They want a bigger cushion/slush fund to compensate for their incompetence. The money they are stockpiling is OURS, not theirs. It belongs in OUR bank accounts, not theirs. They are attempting to rob us, in perpetuity, of the full salaries that we deserve, based on our legally negotiated contract/payscale. We are not demanding MORE money, we’re just demanding the money that they owe us. Any other employees would demand the same if they knew that their employers were sitting on a pile of their hard-earned money and are planning to keep adding to that pile year after year.

How much of a reserve will ever be enough for you, Dr. McNamara? I’d really like to know, because my personal savings account has absolutely no reserve in it anymore. We’re surviving month to month, thanks to that 6% paycut. Now you want us to just roll over and quietly accept a permanent paycut based merely on your insecurities about handling our district’s finances in the future? No way. We will not roll over, and we will not relent until your role in our district is over.

Really, ana? Scents? Oy vey… this is what I’m saying. Your replies lack thought and clarity, and only throws out assumptions after assumptions. It sounds like this is a very emotional issue for you, and your challenge to work a week and see? I’d LOVE to! If you would like to do my job for the same week! Hehehe. We’re switch pay and benefits, too, while we’re at it.

Please. Didn’t the NY Teachers Union challenge John Stossel to the very same thing, and when he taught there, the students improved, he had more time off than ever, and the union had to end that ASAP. I loved it. Think it was his 20/20 special from 2007 called “Stupid in America” (or the follow up/sequel to it).

Really, rOy? “We’re switch pay and benefits, too” Talk about a “lack [of] thought and clarity.”

Two can play the typo game, sir. As for this being “a very emotional issue for you,” who in the heck do you know who does not get emotional about being robbed of what they rightfully deserve? Our students deserve their full school year–not a day less–and we teachers deserve our full pay–not a cent less. If we don’t fight for it, who will? And what sort of example would we be setting for our students and our own children if we simply roll over and take it? By the way, those are rhetorical questions, so don’t bother answering them.

Who do I know that has an over-inflated view of “what they rightfully deserve” – Please, tell us how one comes up with “what they rightfully deserve?”

As Chris Christie once indicated, “if you think you’re not being paid what you’re worth, you don’t have to do it” (loose paraphrase).

Our students deserve 100% of their 185 school year. Do you disagree with that, rOy? If so, why? Likewise, we teachers deserve is 100% of the salary that we negotiated with the district. Do you or do you not respect contractual agreements, rOy?

Moreover, the quote you posted is not relevant to this topic. The reduction in our salary has nothing to do with what we’re worth. It has everything to do with the teachers and classified staff taking one for the administrative team, who made a 1.59 million dollar mistake. Now that our financial sacrifices have erased that deficit and built up the district’s reserve to nearly 7%, the district administrators think they can extend our paycut indefinitely under the pretext that the situation is still “very fragile.” No, it is not. Prop 30 passed and it has not been challenged by anyone, meaning that all public school districts will see a substantial increase in funding for years to come. It’s really not that difficult to understand, rOy. You evidently side with the district administrators, the ones who left the classroom to make more tax payer money; the ones who have almost nothing to do with the education of children. Feel free to take a gander through the district office sometime and you’ll see what I mean. I guarantee that you won’t see any of those people who make well over $100,000 a year working as hard as the teachers do–every single hour of the school day. Switching places with one of them for a day, a week, or even a year would be no sweat for a hard-working guy like you, rOy, since you seem to hold the same disdainful attitudes towards the teachers, i.e., the people who do the actual work on behalf of the children. Administrators have almost nothing to do with the performance of either the students or the teachers at their school. I don’t envy what they do, but I am under no illusion that the meetings/workshops they require us to attend make us any better at what we do. You want to eliminate spending on public education, rOy? Thin out the top-heavy administration ranks, especially on the district level. They are seriously overpaid and underworked.

Ana, I’m not sure where you’re getting your information from, but even the governor said that Prop 30 will just keep funding from being cut, not added to. At this point though, only a fool would trust that the state will pay schools what they say they will.

You deride SLOBIRD for job envy, and then lament about how easy school Administrators have it. If their job is so easy, why don’t you apply for their job? My friend tells me that Edjoin has many administrative jobs listed as available. Seems like it would be a cake walk for you, and you could make so much more money that you wouldn’t have to worry about furlough days or cuts..

I love my job and work very hard at it, which is why I have the audacity to believe that I’m worth every penny that I am contracted to earn. Now, our school site administrators also earn every penny they’re paid as well, but district level administrators? I have no clue what they do on a daily basis to earn their six-figure salaries. Whenever I’ve had an occasion to go to the district office or the Teacher Center, everyone is just calmly going about the business of photocopying something or sitting at their desks, presumably “working” on something on our behalf. I have never ever seen what appears to be strenuous work going on, anything that remotely resembles trying to teach 35 kids per hour. As in many lines of work, the people who do the actual work get the least compensation. BTW, I have never worked with any administrator who was considered to be a great teacher. Good but never great. The great ones remain in the classroom where the actual educating occurs. That’s the reason the majority of us get into education–to teach kids, inspire kids, nurture kids–not to manage other adults.

I agree with you about the bond money being used properly for new and improved buildings at Paso. But you lost all credibility when you then launched into the same mind-numbed union drivel about the superintendent and the so-called no confidence vote from the union. 97% of the teachers did not vote against the superintendent. With a turnout of 77%, at 100% “no” votes you could only claim that 77% of the teachers voted against her. And given the level of misinformation passed by the union and parroted on these pages, it’s no wonder people voted the way they did.

The $1,500,000 issue preceded this superintendent, and was found by the person that this superintendent hired to clean up the financial mess left by previous superintendents. But she’s never said that. She took responsibility as a true leader should. Are you angry about the $9,000,000 that the governor hasn’t paid to Paso schools this year that according to Prop 98, is supposed to be paid? Where’s your hard working union on that issue? Still hurling insults at the superintendent I suppose.

Teachers do work hard. I have many friends who are teachers; most of them in Paso. And I know how tough it is to deal with 30 kids all day. It’s not easy. But neither is other work out there. I also see my teacher friends getting many more days off than I do and going to work later and leaving earlier. My friends work 7.5 hours a day for 173 days this year. In many occupations, that’s considered a part time job.

And finally, your NEGOTIATED salary includes 12 furlough days. What you’re referring to is a salary from years passed, in the days when the governors paid school districts what they were supposed to. When the state reneged on their payments, it was only be a matter of time until salaries had to be reduced. It’s simple math.


1. Let me help you understand the significance of the no confidence vote that Dr. McNamara earned. There are 308 teachers in PRPE. 237 of those 308 (77%) took the time to vote on this crucial issue (an amazing turnout for any vote). Of those 237 who did vote, 230 gave the superintendent a vote of NO confidence. Now, just for the sake of argument, even if every one of those 71 teachers (who did not vote) had given her a vote of confidence, the total percentage of teachers who have NO confidence in Dr. McNamara would still be 74.5%. In other words, even in that “best” case scenario, Dr. M only has the support of 1 in every 4 teachers. Who can effectively lead any organization with so little support?

Now the question becomes why we no longer have any confidence in her. I can tell you flat-out that it is not due to “misinformation passed by the union.” What do you take us for, fans of Fox News? Each of us has worked under her regime, and it’s been awful since day one. It’s not just about her inability to manage the money, it’s about her inability to manage her principals and her teachers. She has created a palpable atmosphere of fear and intimidation among the principals, and they have passed that along to their school sites. She is not a straight-shooter like Dr. Sayne was. She says one thing to our faces and another to KPRL. She is two-faced to the core and we have the tapes to prove it. Just this past week, she went on KPRL and LIED by claiming that she did not receive a vote of no confidence in Banning. That is demonstrably FALSE. I’ve already posted the paragraph from, so I won’t do so here. So, if you’re going to accuse the 230 seasoned professional educators of being hoodwinked by our union leaders, well, you better make the case against the teachers of Banning, too. Then again, maybe hundreds of teachers in two different districts have it all wrong about her, and she’s just a victim of a vast smear campaign/conspiracy. Right.

As for the $1,590,000.00 (you shortchanged us by $90,000, so your grasp of the facts is already suspect), it is true that the problem began before her tenure. However, she held nobody accountable for that mistake and she did not inform us about it until Jan 2012, despite the fact that she knew about it as early as 2010. That’s why she was pushing us so hard to accept furlough days in 2010–so she could cover up that HUGE “accounting” error with our money and never have to admit to it. Which leads us to your misunderstanding of what a negotiated salary means.

The 1.59 million dollar crisis necessitated that we take the paycuts that we have taken over the past two years. We didn’t really “negotiate” anything. It was forced upon us to save the district from being taken over by the state. For example, the 6% we LOST this year is due to a reduction of days worked, not a reduction of the step and column figures. Thus, the reason that we demand that all of the furlough days be reinstated, just as they were reinstated in Atascadero last year. The bottom line comes down to this: do you or don’t you hold the highest paid administrator in the district ultimately responsible for these screwups or not? She is paid far too much simply to pass the buck. And if you think her melodramatic, tear-filled speech last February comes close to taking responsibility, then I should inform you that she pulled the same BS down in Banning. Whenever the going got tough, she would work herself up into a histrionic speech at a school board meeting, in the hopes that she could continue to garner sympathy for a job poorly done. They didn’t buy it and neither do we.

What should now be obvious to anyone reading our exchanges, is that you know almost nothing substantial about these issues, as evidenced by your superficial comments about them, and I know them in great detail, from an insider’s perspective. If you consider me biased because I am a teacher, well, thank you. I’m on the right side of these issues–the students’ side, because they’re the ones getting shortchanged, not just because they attend school fewer days per year but because they attend schools where, because of Dr. M’s mandates, prepping for the all-important standardized tests now trumps projects or any other creative approaches to teaching. That is a major reason why anyone who can leave this district or retire are doing it as fast as they can. If you were a teacher, you would understand why, at the very least, 230 out of 308 of us are resolute in our rejection of Dr. McNamara’s leadership. And please keep in mind that we gave her nearly four years to prove herself before we took that vote. The results speak for themselves.

Here’s a little newsflash: ANY employees who face cuts, layoffs, furlough, etc. generally dislike the management. In all jobs, public sector or productive sector.

Take a confidence vote after the announcement of bad news and you’ll get a lot of negative votes, I’m sure.

Again, r0y is correct. Her job is to make the hard decisions, not be popular. So let me tell you the significance of a no confidence vote from teachers; nothing.

And really? You’re going to quibble over whether I used $1,500,000 and $1,590,000?

Isn’t the point the same? She was handed the problem, and she’s taking care of it.

And I will gladly concede that you’re an insider. But based on your comments and obvious lack of understanding of the big picture, whether it be the role of administration or the overall financial health of the state, it’s fair to say that you can’t see the forest for the trees.


Yeah, what’s a paltry $90,000? Anyone could overlook that, right? Easy come, easy go–unless that 90 grand is now coming out of your paycheck. As for you having a better understanding of the big picture, well, you better work on getting the details of the little, local picture right before you presume to condescend to me about knowing more about the overall health of the state. No other profession in this state has suffered more than teachers have due to the state’s budget woes. Why do you think we worked so hard to push Prop 30 over the top? Yet Dr. M and her negotiating team pretend as if it didn’t pass. They probably think Romney won in a landslide, too.

BTW, the average reserve of a CA school district is 10%? Please cite your source for that stat. As it is, our best estimate is that our district is now sitting on a 7% reserve, which is more than double of what it needs to be (3%). My personal reserve (savings account) is sitting at 0%. It is month to month in our household, Jenny, thanks to that major screwup. And she knew about it long before Jan 2012. The sacrifice per month that we’re making now could have been greatly mitigated if she had come forward as soon as she was informed (2010) of the shortfall, but she did not. Instead, she tried to get us to take furloughs long BEFORE it was made public, in the hopes that the error would not have to come to light. The previous board was negligent, too. You’ll notice that a number of them did not get reelected. We’ll see what happens to the holdovers in the next election.

I had to do some research on this, but the bond issue was a stab in the back piece written by someone with an axe to grind against schools. The bonds at issue, capital appreciation bonds, or CABs are a type of bond that are included in most bond portfolios. School districts sell bonds through brokers who package them in a form that is attractive to investors. Paso Robles and Cambria were chided for having these CABs in their bond packages, but the schools didn’t put the bond packages together, the brokers did. And CABs make up a very small portion of the bond package, around 5%. The thing that triggered this is the Poway school district whose bond package included a very high percentage of CABs which caught the eye of the IRS. Poway schools didn’t put together that package, their broker did. But they are getting worked over the coals for it.

Thanks, Jenny, that was helpful and informative. I think, regardless of CABs and portfolio makeups, the school bond issues were often over-used and bonds almost always turn out bad for the party issuing them. It’s easier and less damaging to just print money, but only the federal government gets to do that (and actually, they rent the printed money, too… so sad).

Bonds are fine in the productive sector, but in the public sector they are disastrous! We normally did not see the financial “damage” they do because agencies would play the bond game of issuing additional bonds to help pay off previous bonds. Ultimately, no one wants to buy the bonds and the agency is stuck in financial turmoil.

Bonds are BAD NEWS for public agencies. Sure, they can be a short term “fix” or “gain” but in the end, the piper must be paid (well, should be). I can go on and on about how they are used to circumvent tax increases and used to disassociate revenue liabilities from the people who vote for bonds, but there’s a lot of that (finally) coming out in our nation.

I asked that question, also. Why do school districts sell bonds? And the answer is, there’s no other way to meet large cost issues other than bonds or certificates of participation (COPs). The law doesn’t allow any other options. And since school buildings only last for about 25 years before they have to be remodeled, there’s no other way to get the money for that level of expense. Back before the 1970’s school boards had direct taxing ability, so they didn’t have to sell bonds. But the state took that away.

I agree that it’s not the best solution, but from what I’m told, it’s the only solution.

25 years? In Mexico there is an elementary school that is over 400 years old!

I am sick of listening to the crying teachers that slack in their ability to actually do their job which is to teach. Get out test scores up for our kids and maybe we can talk. With nearly 2.5 months off each summer and every holiday known to man, quite complaining and get to work. I take 5 holidays off each year plus about one week and that’s it. Granted, I own my own business so there is some choice here but to survive and pay my taxes that pay these teachers, it is necessary. What is the going salary these days for a teacher?

Sorry, out = our and quite = quit at 5:30 a.m. as I am getting ready for my 10 hour day.

standup: I assume from your username that you’re a “standup” sort of guy or are you just a standup comedian? Well, we’re not laughing at your lame opinions of our performance on behalf of the students of PR. A number of PR schools score above the all-important 800 mark on the CST, yet our district remains in “program improvement” due to the idiotic definitions under NCLB, thanks to Bush and Teddy Kennedy (RIP). At PRHS, it is literally about 50 sophomores who keep us in PI due to not being able to pass the HS Exit Exam. 50 kids. The rest of our kids are doing either OK or very well. We’re still sending a good percentage to the top universities in the state and country, and there is absolutely no reason why any motivated student cannot achieve at the very highest levels. Our calendar year, is what it is, based on historical traditions, not our own choosing. Do not blame teachers for having the time off that they do: it is part and parcel of education. If you’re advocating for students to be in school year-round, then, by all means, make that argument. But it is not within our control, so don’t lump that issue in with our salaries, which we earn every single week day and weekend. If you still think we have it easy, please come and join us for a week.

Spin this, JennyDriver:

On her last day on the job, Banning (CA) Unified Superintendent Kathy McNamara lashed out at her critics, blasting them as “mean-spirited,” “vindictive,” and creating “a horrible climate in which to work” in a letter she read aloud at a November school board meeting. She is leaving her position to move to the Paso Robles (CA) school district, after receiving a vote of no confidence last fall from the board. McNamara had been widely criticized for her combative relationship with the teachers’ union and for her management style. “I think it is time for teachers to take stock in their leadership and decide if it’s time for a change—a change from negative, adversarial tactics that breed a climate of mistrust, ill will, and lack of personal integrity,” McNamara said at the meeting. She also sent copies of the letter to employees and newspapers. (

Sounds exactly like the type of administrator I’d love to have at SLCUSD! YES, challenge the teachers and their union! YES, stop the petty quasi-governmental in-house bickering, back-stabbing and CYA’ing…

I could be wrong, but to me she sounds like someone who actually cares about students and education!

Seems that the unions in Banning were just as nasty as the unions in Paso. What’s your point? Fact is, when you stand up to powerful and vengeful groups like unions you make enemies. The difference is that some people stand up to them in spite of the rocks that get thrown at them for taking a stand.

Just can’t stand it anymore! All of the spin and propaganda from the unions reprinted here as truth. It’s maddening. Is that why there are no by-lines on these stories?

Let’s try to insert some truth here. It’s not that hard to get the facts. A little research and a couple of phone calls and most of this nonsense falls away.

For example, 3% is the state required minimum budget reserve. Only foolish schools have 3%. Most have around 10% in these economic times. One unexpected lawsuit and that 3% can be gone in a flash. Referring to a 5% reserve as robust is laughable. Would you consider having a 3% savings a robust savings? I didn’t think so.

And for more union math, how is a 4.87% cut really equal to 5.5%? This from the same group that tells you that a 3% cut one year and a separate 6% cut the next year equal a 9% cut. Obviously, the people who wrote this aren’t math teachers. If I took 3% from your $100 paycheck last month, and then took 6% from your $100 paycheck this month, did I take 9% from your paycheck? If you answered yes, please respond because I have some investments I want to sell you.

To answer questions from the peanut gallery, the superintendent will take the same cut that the teachers take. Always has. And r0y is right; the superintendent salary is in line with other school districts or companies dealing with $50 million+ budgets. It’s a complex and difficult job. If you don’t think so, get your doctorate and apply for the job. You’ll find it’s not as easy as it looks.

And finally, as for raises, the superintendent has a 5 column pay scale, which means that each year her salary moves over one column, which results in a slight increase for five years. The teachers have the same thing, except they have 24 columns. That means that they have automatic raises also, except theirs go on for 24 years, not 5. Despite what you hear, most of the teachers got a raise last year, off setting much of the effect of the furlough days.

“Just can’t stand it anymore! All of the spin and propaganda from the unions reprinted here as truth. ”

It is neither spin nor propaganda to state that the only reason that our district has any reserve at all is because both teachers and classified employees agreed to take the 6 furlough days last year and 12 furlough days this school year. Lest we forget, that became necessary due to a $1,590,000.00 accounting “mistake” which happened on McNamara’s watch, and which she knew about as far back as 2010, but which she did not tell the teachers about until Jan 2012–when it had reached a crisis.

The bottom line is that her inability to manage our multi-million dollar budget is what caused that crisis; it was not due to any fault of the teachers or classified employees. Somebody under her charge screwed up big time and we all had to pay the price. Now, moving forward, the question is whether teachers and classified employees should have to continue to pay out of our own paychecks simply to increase our district’s reserve. Given that Prop 30 passed, which guarantees that more money will be coming to our district (and every other district in the state), the obvious answer is no. Correction: Hell No! If another crisis “occurs,” we will gladly do what is necessary to keep our district afloat, but it is completely untenable for the district negotiators to expect us, in perpetuity, to continue to pad their coffers with our hard-earned money, simply to give them a bigger cushion just in case someone under Dr. McNamara’s supervision screw up again.

Now, if you want to talk about spin, then let’s talk about how Dr. M went on KPRL this morning and flat-out LIED the public about her record in the Banning school district. She claimed that she did NOT receive a vote of no-confidence from the Banning teachers. Two facts she cannot get around: 1. One of our union repscontacted his counterpart in the Banning School District today, and that person confirmed that Dr. M did, in fact, receive a vote of no-confidence. 2. We have a recording of exactly what she said on KRPL today and, according to a colleague who heard it, her claim does not align with the objective, verifiable truth. Check out my next post from www

If you listened to KPRL, then you know that they confirmed that Mrs. McNamara was not fired, nor did she receive a vote of no confidence from the union. It appears your scholastic article and your union representative were wrong. But you should be used to that by now.

So just made up a work of fiction and have kept it posted on their website since 2007 and Dr. M has never challenged them to take it down, even though that paragraph is not just inaccurate but defamatory and even libelous? Really? She’s never fought it because she knows that she cannot fight against the TRUTH. Our union reps have talked directly to union reps in Banning and they have confirmed that they gave her a vote of NO confidence, too. What “research” have you done that justifies your loyalty to Dr. M? BTW, it is true that they did not fire her, but the question still remains: Why in the world did our district hire her when she came with so much Samsonite?

I’m not claiming that the entire article is a work of fiction, but that this is an error in the article. Most news stories have errors in them. And your quote from the article says that the no confidence vote was from the board, not the unions. A no confidence vote from the board would be equivalent to getting fired. And KPRL did the follow-up and found that not only was there not a no confidence vote, but she wasn’t fired either. It sounds like once again, your union reps are feeding you a healthy diet of propaganda, and you are eating it up.

I’m not loyal to Mrs. McNamare. I just try to get all information before I pass judgement. Like most people in a top position, hers is not an easy job. And the attacks on her for no real reason made me move to action. Not to defend her, but because of all of the nonsense that was being passed off here as truth.

My question to you is, why are you so negative? You’ve got a better job than most people equal or higher college degrees, even with a 6% pay cut. You still have a medical benefits and retirement package that most in private jobs would love to have. And you work barely half of the year, only 7.5 hours per day. Why are you so angry and bitter? If you blame Mrs. McNamara, then you really should spend some time trying to figure out why you, someone has so much, blames others for your bitterness.


Please explain to me what part of the blurb below is incorrect and how you KNOW it to be incorrect. While you’re at it, please tell me why Dr. M receiving a vote of no confidence from the Banning School Board is less serious than receiving one from the Banning teachers. Either way you slice it, the problem is the person who received a vote of no confidence in both districts, not the districts themselves.

On her last day on the job, Banning (CA) Unified Superintendent Kathy McNamara lashed out at her critics, blasting them as “mean-spirited,” “vindictive,” and creating “a horrible climate in which to work” in a letter she read aloud at a November school board meeting. She is leaving her position to move to the Paso Robles (CA) school district, after receiving a vote of no confidence last fall from the board. McNamara had been widely criticized for her combative relationship with the teachers’ union and for her management style. “I think it is time for teachers to take stock in their leadership and decide if it’s time for a change—a change from negative, adversarial tactics that breed a climate of mistrust, ill will, and lack of personal integrity,” McNamara said at the meeting. She also sent copies of the letter to employees and newspapers. (


Unless the combined pay cut from 2 years is stated incorrectly, your math is farther off than theirs is. Using your example, receiving a pay cut of 3% from a $100 paycheck leaves one with a $97 paycheck. If 6% more is cut from the $97 (which is implied in the statement) on the next paycheck, the result is $91.18 which is close enough to a 9% pay cut for practical purposes. I don’t think that I will be buying those investments you want to sell me.

As for the superintendent’s salary, I have a problem with the “comparative” pay scale determination for administrative salaries as well as for lower-level employees. This website has shown ample proof that simply paying a government executive a “competitive” salary does not guarantee that they can or will do a competent or ethical job with their duties. That, not just resume “qualifications,” should determine pay levels. While a superintendent can’t simply “knuckle under” to everything a union proposes, one that has a history of overwhelming combativeness can’t be regarded as competent either.

District school boards sometimes show the same sort of disconnect from the interests of their citizens that many corporate boards exhibit toward stockholders when hiring executives. If they can’t find someone experienced who is willing to start at a moderate pay rate and earn pay increases with performance, they should look harder and perhaps consider taking a less experienced candidate with potential and making sure that person is well supported and given more oversight initially.

You missed the part where JennyDriver said each cut (3% and 6%) were both taken from a $100 paycheck, not that they COMPOUNDED, but that (it is assumed) after the first cut, the pay went back to the established amount ($100) and then a 6% cut occurred.

I do not know if the cuts compounded, or were individually applied (as in JennyDriver’s example); either way, it’s waving at the smoke, and ignoring the fire.

The combined pay cut IS stated INCORRECTLY. It is NOT combined. Originally, teachers worked 185 days in a year. All district staff took 6 furlough days in 2011-12. (Teachers worked for 179 days; roughly a 3% pay reduction). All staff took 12 furlough days in 2012-13 (Teachers worked for 173 days; roughly a 6% pay reduction.) If it was combined, teachers would have only worked 167 days in 2012-13.(Roughly a 9%pay reduction.) Something that is glaringly incorrect. So maybe you should by those investments.

And yes, the unions knew they were incorrect when they passed out the 9% cut information, but they passed it out anyway, knowing many of their lock-step supporters would accept as fact, even though a flurry of emails at the time had the math teachers trying to correct this obvious untruth.

Your assumption of “overwhelming combativeness” is another erroneous assumption on your part. You’re basing your opinion on a narrow window of information that is intentionally spun to present only a negative light. Be careful about forming opinions based on propaganda.

It would be nice to see Ms McNamera put her students and school system ahead of her own pocket, but my guess is that this will never happen. Just like the ‘leaders’ of the CA university system, and most every public official – they all are very willing to have someone else take cuts – but never themselves. I, for one, find it impossible to understand what is so important or vital about her job that necessitates her salary. But the same goes for the head of Cal Poly, the BOS members, all of the Paso Robles city officials, and many, many more. They have found jobs that feed off of the public trough and they ain’t about to give any of it up.

How soon do you think it will be before the Paso School district puts a bond or tax increase on the ballot – in order to pay her even more? While other teachers take a pay cut, students take more days off, and the Paso schools continue to slide down.

Am I missing something? I did not get that McNamera is putting her own financial interests before the district… I mean, the story mentions her contracted pay increases, but how that’s even remotely related to her trying to get a hold of the PRJUSD with it’s financial woes I do not know.

What I do know is that the districts money woes are not simply $180K/year or whatever Ms. McNamera is making, so attacking her income seems quite short-sighted. Again, unless I am missing something here.

What I gleaned was that she needs to CUT and restructure, likely in order to have the district survive. We cannot all be the Federal Government and just print/digitize all our debts. We actually have to come up with the money.

Something unions need to understand. Ask Hostess.

Well, they could be privatized, but nobody seems interested in what the free market can do for them.

If they cut too much out of their budget, they will be out of business anyway, as people will take their kids out and get their education somewhere else. A viable, thriving business should be GROWING, not SHRINKING!

They are beaten either way.

The only way out of this dilemma is for them to be privatized. Keep going down this road and you won’t have any public education AT ALL because it simply won’t be able to service its customers, and those customers will utilize the free market to get what they want.

While I would LOVE a free market alternative, the problem is, private schools (free market) DO NOT have to take EVERY student. Public schools do. If little Johnny is problematic enough, the private school can hand him back to the parents and say “no thank you” and move on.

Public school does not get this “luxury” and must deal with all the kids (even the ignorant ones from ignorant families). This is the main argument against vouchers for me, someone who supports vouchers. It would be like the TEACH school recent hubub: all the smart kids go there and exacerbate the problem the rest of the district has regarding performance.

Until we can shift our Overton Window to the point where we’re comfortable, as a society, not educating or guaranteeing an education to everyone. It’s a dangerous road to go down, as freedom cannot survive without education (hence how the dumbing-down of America conveniently coincides with the erosion of our liberties).

Just curious, how much of a reduction in salary and benefits will Ms. McNamera be taking?

I recall something around 180K/year or so for her salary (and benefits?). I remember at the time that her compensation did not seem excessive at all for the position and size of the district.

Still, it would be a good sign for all management types at the district level to also reduce pay packages. Then again, if they already are paying in more for benefits, retirement, etc. while teachers (thanks to union contracts) do not, then it might not be apples-to-apples here.

The bigger problem is the borrowing/spending issue that ALL government types seem to have. It’s like any real inkling of common sense to finance is anathema to the government. I still read “learned” people writing about spending our way out of recession. It boggles the mind.

The number is likley somewhere around “0”, an even a negative number which would translate into a raise for Ms McNamera