LANCASTER — An­tel­ope Val­ley Union High School Dis­trict trustee John Rush asked his Board majority colleagues to “team up for kindness” and show support for the dis­trict’s certificated and clas­sified management and unrepresented em­ploy­­ees who were the only em­ploy­ees not to get a pay raise and bonus last month.

Rush and trustee Jill Mc­Grady voted at the Feb. 28 meeting in support of a 2% ongoing pay raise and 2.5% one-time bonus for the employees that in­clude district ad­min­is­tra­tors as well as school site prin­cipals and their ex­ec­u­tive secretaries, sec­ur­ity dir­ect­ors and con­fi­den­tial em­ploy­ees such as those who handle per­son­nel data.

Board President Rob­ert “Bob” Davis, Vice Pres­i­dent Victoria Ruffin and Clerk Amanda Parrell voted against it.

“I thought maybe we could revisit that issue, give us all four weeks or so to maybe research and maybe vote on it,” said Rush, who requested the item be put on the Board’s next agenda.

“I’m in favor of that, Mr. Rush,” Davis said.

McGrady noted the Board gave pay raises to teachers and classified per­son­nel at the Feb. 28 meet­ing.

“At that same meeting the Board majority refused to give a raise to one of, our unrepresented labor group,” McGrady said. “They did not even receive a minimal raise to offset the cost of living. Two of my colleagues cited the red on the Dashboard as a reas­on to deny these raises to the unrepresented labor group.”

McGrady then tried to read an explanation of the Dash­board, only to be in­ter­rupted by Davis, who asked Rachel Orosco, ex­ec­utive assistant to Su­per­in­ten­dent David Vierra, for a copy.

“I’m very busy up here and it’s hard to un­der­stand,” Davis said.

McGrady paraphrased the explanation, which came from the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

“The county said that the Dashboard is not to be used as a penalty — that’s not to be used as a penalty. It is to be used for us to see what we need to improve on, to help us help students,” McGrady said. “It’s not to be used as merit pay.”

McGrady added if the district is going to start using merit pay, then the An­tel­ope Valley Teach­ers As­so­ciation and the Cal­if­ornia School Em­ploy­ees Association Chapter 612 should know.

“I don’t think any Board members ever said that’s the direction we’re going,” Davis said. “This Board sup­ported the teachers’ union and the CSEA clas­sif­ied staff and that was very clear. The vote was very clear.”

McGrady added Orosco, who had to stay until the Board finished its closed ses­sion, which could stretch late into the night, to clean up, did not get a pay raise because there was red on the Dashboard.

“Everyone in the audience who didn’t get a pay raise, would you stand up please?” McGrady said.

Most of the people in the packed boardroom stood up.

“I would urge us to do the honorable thing now that we are aware that the Dash­board was not meant to be punitive,” McGrady said, “and since that was given as the reason that we were, that we bring it back for another vote. Let’s give it another chance. Let’s give us a chance to honor everyone that gets up every day and goes to work and does a job to ed­u­cate the children in the Antelope Valley. Let’s honor all of them with a pay raise.”

Student trustee Noah Sveiven agreed.

“I think the denial of raises was needless, and I think it’s shameful,” Svei­ven said. “I think that par­tisan posturing is not some­thing that we should par­tic­ipate in in our public capacities.”

Classified employee Karen White said she hoped the Board would re­con­sider raises for the un­rep­re­sented employees.

“I feel, and I’m sure a lot of others feel, that that would be the equity that the district would be giving them because they’re just like the rest of the clas­sif­ied and certificated,” White said. “They dedicate their time, their efforts and I feel they should also be com­pen­sa­ted in the same respect.”

Teacher Gary Roberts said the management and un­represented employees are being held accountable for a socio-economic prob­lem.

“Until we decide that we’re going to have uni­ver­sal health care; until we decide that we’re going to have preschool; until we decide that we’re going to have state-run daycare for all kids; until we have family leave for parents that have ba­bies that have been born for first year; you cannot hold these people accountable for test scores,” Roberts said. “Test scores are not going to rise until we as a society, as a state, intervene at the earliest level.”

Roberts added that de­vel­opment of a child is most critical from ages 1 to 4.

“If they are given the equal play surface they will do fine in testing and so forth,” Roberts said. “But to hold some of your employees accountable for that increase is not right.”

Roberts added he hoped one of the Board majority would bring it back for a vote.

Former AV Union High School District trustee Do­ni­ta Winn said during Great Recession money was tight for the district and no one in the district took pay raises.

“They all stuck together to make sure that we didn’t have to do any layoffs,”  Winn said. “And we didn’t thanks to the guidance and leadership of Dr. Vier­ra. No one got laid off dur­ing that time. Districts across the country were lay­ing people off because they couldn’t afford that. This team stuck together. They stayed together and they made it possible for every­body to have a job.”

Winn added it was dis­re­spectful not to give the cer­tif­icated and classified man­age­ment and un­rep­re­sented employees a pay raise.

To share your opinion on this article or any other article, write a letter to the editor and email it to editor@avpress.com or mail it to Letters to Editor, PO Box 4050, Palmdale CA 93590-4050.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.