LANCASTER — Last weekend Eastside High School hosted an estimated 2,000 people over two days for the second Aerospace Valley Regional robotics competition.
Many of the school employees who contributed to the success of the competition worked 14- or 15-hour days to help pull it off.
Those employees and others, including school site principals and their executive secretaries, security directors, speech language pathologists and school psychologists, were among workers denied a pay raise on Feb. 28.
Antelope Valley Union High School District Board President Robert “Bob” Davis, Vice President Victoria Ruffin, and Clerk Amanda Parrell voted against a 2% ongoing pay raise and 2.5% one-time bonus for the unrepresented employees at the meeting.
Trustees Jill McGrady and John Rush voted in favor of the pay raises.
The Board unanimously granted similar pay raises to teachers and classified employees at the same meeting.
At the March 14 Board meeting Rush asked that the pay raises for unrepresented be put back on the agenda for their next meeting, which was Thursday.
“You said, ‘I think that’s a very good idea,’ ” Rush said to Davis at Thursday’s meeting.
“I think this is a closed session item,” Davis responded, prompting an audible reaction from the standing-room-only audience.
Davis added the item was resolved in closed session.
“I think closed session we resolved that issue. If I am correct, only an approved member that approved it could bring it back,” Davis said.
McGrady cited an audio recording of the March 14 meeting. She reminded Davis that he said he was in favor of bringing the pay raises back to the agenda.
“I do not see this item on the agenda for the vote and I want to know what happened between that last meeting to when you created this agenda,” McGrady said.
“No comment,” Davis said.
McGrady recognized the Eastside High employees, as well as the unrepresented employees who attended Thursday’s Board meeting, for the 14- to 15-hour day they worked on Thursday.
“Eastside High School, SOAR, and Lancaster (High School) have just been recognized for the outstanding work for our students, yet we deny many of those individuals a raise,” McGrady said.
McGrady, with an apology for singling her out, then noted Career Technical Education Director Betsy McKinstry received the administrator of the year award from two organizations — California Association for Career and Technical Education and California HOSA.
“It’s an embarrassment to me that we would tell her that she does not deserve a raise,” McGrady said.
McGrady added the Board’s duties include not only addressing issues that need to be improved, but also rewarding employees for the positive work they do every day.
“I am asking you once again, publicly, to put the pay raise for the unrepresented labor group back on the agenda,” McGrady said. “Mr. Davis, will this be on our agenda for our next meeting?”
“I’ll think about it,” Davis said.
Jennifer Bascom, secretary to Antelope Valley High School Principal Jodie Radford, started working for the District in 1999. Bascom reminded the Board how everyone in the District worked together during the Great Recession to ensure no one lost their job.
“Cabinet visited every site to collect input from all stakeholders; a plan was agreed upon, and yup, no one lost their jobs,” Bascom said.
Bascom added she was confused when she heard the Board majority voted against pay raises for the unrepresented employees.
“Isn’t the reason this District is successful today due to the efforts of all. Was it your plan to divide or cause unrest in the District,” Bascom said.
Desert Winds High School secretary Cristy Todd, a 22-year District employee, also serves as team manager fort the school’s race car team.
“I put in weekends; I put in tons of hours, tons of my own money to help these kids,” Todd said. “We do a whole lot. I spends hours that I don’t get paid for all the time and I don’t complain about it. I’m here for the kids. You know, it would be nice to get compensated a little bit. We should be treated equally. And we would really appreciate you guys revisiting us unrepresented people getting a raise because we should be represented too.”
Scott Fish, president of California School Employees Association Chapter 612, which represents the District’s classified employees, said they are in favor of equality.
Ruffin suggested the District’s two union groups add a “me too” clause to their collective bargaining agreements to include the unrepresented employees.
“It would be nice if you guys did the hard work,” Ruffin said. “I just heard Mr. Fish say that they approve it, so if these boards approve it, then collectively you guys can come with me too and it’s not a question.”
But Rush countered the District never had a “me too.”
“We had kind of side bar agreements that we would honor it,” Rush said. “But it was never a written down thing. I think that we as a Board would say that from the very beginning. Is that kind of how it went? Do you remember that way, Mr. Davis?”
“Are we talking about a closed session item?” Davis said.
“I think Dr. Ruffin opened the door,” said Bridget Cook, the District’s general counsel.
Rush apologized, and Cook recommended the Board move on.
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