Commentary: Granda Continues Deceptive Rhetoric Against the School District

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math-chalkboardFrom the very beginning, the school district was very clear that, while Measure C would close some of the ten million dollar funding gap, it would not cover all of it.  Thus, when the voters passed Measure C in March, that gap was reduced down to 3.5 million dollars.

The district had hoped to avoid further layoffs, but when negotiations with the teachers union failed to achieve the necessary concessions, the district had to lay off 50 employees.

In the spring, Jose Granda filed such a deceptive ballot statement that Judge Sam McAdam was forced to strike down portions of it.  Instead of acknowledging his error and moving on, Mr. Granda continued to make the same proven erroneous assertions.

Mr. Granda is at it again, writing an extremely deceptive letter to the Davis Enterprise.

He quotes a March 2, Davis Enterprise article that reported: “The school board approved a resolution authorizing Assistant Superintendent Matt Best to not serve layoff notices to employees who have jobs funded by Measure C if Davis area voters approve the parcel tax by the required two-thirds majority when the ballots are counted Tuesday.

“Best was quite blunt about what will happen if Measure C comes up short of the required two-thirds majority. ‘Measure C funds the equivalent of about 78 full-time positions, held by a total of about 120 people’ (since some of those positions represent part-time duties). ‘So about 120 people would get pink slips by March 15 if Measure C doesn’t pass on March 6,’ Best said.”

He then writes, “They passed Measure C using this scare tactic. The board still fired the teachers and others and also canceled language classes, which it said it would not do if the measure passed. Isn’t that a deception? The board mentioned the number of teachers who would not be laid off if the measure passed.”

Except for one problem – this is not what the district claimed.  The positions that Measure C funded were kept, but another 50 were eliminated because of the remaining $3.5 million.

This spring we admonished the Davis Enterprise for not correcting the factual distortions by Mr. Granda, and this time they do not let his inaccuracies go uncorrected.

They write, “The Davis Enterprise reported on at least four occasions before the Measure C vote the news that more layoffs would be necessary to close the school district’s stubborn $3.5 million structural deficit.”

For example, they write that they reported on February 3, “And while approval of Measure C would keep some further cuts at bay, it is by no means a cure-all for the financial dilemmas facing Davis schools. Last week, the Board of Education discussed how to address a $3.5 million structural deficit at current staffing levels, which the district will need to deal with even if Measure C is approved. Staff reductions, employee concessions, a shorter school year and other options may be proposed.”

On February 11, they reported, “As if the nearly 87 layoffs that will be necessary if Measure C fails on March 6 aren’t enough, now the Davis school district has released a list of 50 more jobs at risk because of a stubborn budget deficit. The dramatic layoffs – 31 elementary teachers and the vice principals at the three junior high schools – are outlined in a proposed resolution to be discussed at Thursday’s school board meeting.”

This one is critical, because the same 50 jobs they released the list of on February 11, nearly a month before the election, is the same list they eventually had to lay off.

This was not hidden from the public, in fact there were public meetings like the one on February 15 that the Enterprise reported, “Before an audience of about 40 concerned parents and community members, Davis school district officials outlined the schools’ $3.5 million fiscal dilemma during an hourlong meeting Wednesday at Davis High School … Davis has a $3.5 million structural deficit, which could be reduced by laying off about 60 employees, or by employee concessions and/or a shorter school year.”

The next day, they had to approve those layoffs.  “The Davis school board glumly approved a batch of 50 additional layoff notices on Thursday night. The pink slips form a possible ‘all cuts’ approach to narrowing the school district’s current $3.5 million structural deficit.”

The amazing thing about all of this – it happened BEFORE the election.  Not only was there no deception on the part of the school district, but they did it prior to the election.  They did not get the voters to pass the parcel tax AND THEN lay off teachers – they did it before the parcel tax, in public.

Mr. Granda must not have been paying attention.

Mr. Granda is entitled to disagree with the district’s parcel tax.  In fact, if he disagrees, he ought to fight it, campaign against it.  But he needs to use facts, not fabrications to do so.

On two different occasions (multiple times the first time) he has been caught making inaccurate and demonstrably false statements misrepresenting a whole host of things.  This is not helpful to public discourse.

The Davis Enterprise did the right thing this time, combating it by presenting very clearly the facts that show that the school district was upfront about how they conducted their public business.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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20 thoughts on “Commentary: Granda Continues Deceptive Rhetoric Against the School District”

  1. wdf1

    The title of his letter, posted online, is “My Statements are Accurate ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/letters/my-statements-are-accurate/[/url]).”

  2. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Next, there is nothing inaccurate about the statements I made about the four administrators’ salaries making the equivalent of 19 teachers at their entry-level salary. These are the facts: Superintendent Winfred Roberson, $189,904, which is $30,000 more than the average superintendent earns in nearby counties; Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby, $194,326 (more than Roberson); Associate Superintendent Clark Bryant, $145,779; and Assistant Superintendent Matt Best, $124,824. These add up to $654,833.[/quote]

    This is interesting information…

  3. medwoman

    [quote]Next, there is nothing inaccurate about the statements I made about the four administrators’ salaries making the equivalent of 19 teachers at their entry-level salary. These are the facts: Superintendent Winfred Roberson, $189,904, which is $30,000 more than the average superintendent earns in nearby counties; Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby, $194,326 (more than Roberson); Associate Superintendent Clark Bryant, $145,779; and Assistant Superintendent Matt Best, $124,824. These add up to $654,833.
    [/quote]

    I also found this interesting information. So I decided to do a little on line comparison shopping using HR reported data on salary.com updated as of 7/12. What I found was the following in terms of median and range of public school supervisor salaries by county. I did not go through and put in every county in California,
    but did sample enough to provide a different perspective.

    Yolo – Median salary $150,164
    Range ( $ 99,613 – 209,444)
    Chico – Median $144,319
    Range ( 95,113 – 204,080)
    Making it the lowest paying of the counties listed from the entire state
    San Jose – Median salary $ 173,265
    Range (112, 269 – 241,664)
    Making it the highest paying of the listed counties
    Stockton – Median salary $154,507
    Range ( 100,436 – 215,501)
    Vallejo – Median salary $159,903
    Range ( 103,943 – 223,027

    Now you are all aware that my expertise is not in economics, so I welcome the comments of those who are regarding how best to interpret these numbers. However, my point is that there are many ways to interpret numbers, especially when you choose to cherry pick to prove a point you are trying to make.
    So in my version of cherry picking, it looks as though we are well within the norm for supervisor salaries within the state and with our region of the state.

    Adding the total of their salaries adds nothing to the conversation unless you are going to add the total for other counties for comparison of over all expenditure. I would also feel that a comparison of test scores and or student population, and probably many measures of which I am unaware since my expertise is also not in education would give a better perspective on the value we are getting for the expenditure we are making.

    I would welcome more information on these other points from Mr. Granda or from anyone knowledgeable in funding of the public school system.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    The critical variable that needs to be standardized in order to compare salaries of administration is size of the district. When I looked at the data, Davis was actually somewhat below average for pay for a district their size.

    Also I find this statement curious: “These add up to $654,833. “

    Assuming these numbers are correct (they may not be). So what is he suggesting that the district can operate without a superintendent, business officer, education assistant superintendent (they got rid of the education associate superintendent) and HR director? That’s not legal. So the $654K number only means something if it is more than they should be paying and it only means as much as they have overpaid? The problem is that the district is paying less than the typical district their size.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    “In my opinion the $642 was all part of the game plan. Ask for more and settle for less but still ask voters for more than double the original $204.”

    After talking to Richard Harris extensively afterwards, I can say your opinion is completely wrong. He put a sincere proposal. He was very disappointed that he did not get it.

  6. wdf1

    I apologize if it’s poor form to directly copy so much. But this is a very good point.
    [quote]Over 100,000 Teacher Jobs Lost in Last 12 Months ([url]http://news.firedoglake.com/2012/07/06/over-100000-teacher-jobs-lost-in-last-12-months/[/url])

    By David Dayen

    [img]http://static1.firedoglake.com/37/files/2012/07/image1.png[/img]

    The most important chart when thinking about the economies under George W. Bush and Barack Obama can be seen above. It compares the first-term job numbers of the two Presidents. Both of them endured recessions at the start of their terms, though Obama’s was bigger. But the biggest difference comes in the public jobs numbers. The parabolic arc on private-sector jobs is broadly similar, although Obama’s are better. But the difference on public-sector jobs is intense. Under Bush, the public sector grew markedly. Under Obama it has shrunk considerably. If we saw Bush-era gains in the public sector during the last four years, the unemployment rate would be a full point lower.

    An example of this can be seen in the layoffs of teachers. Joe Weisenthal first caught that over 100,000 teaching jobs have been cut in the last year. It’s not that parents no longer demand teachers for their children, it’s that state government cutbacks have led to this specific job loss, and the federal government has not taken up the slack since 2010. If you go back to June 2008, teacher jobs have fallen by 300,000.

    “Such cuts obviously have perilous effects for the nation’s education system and long-term economic health, but it hurts the economy in the short-term too. Teachers are disproportionately women, so the cuts affect a subset of worker that already faces significant disadvantages in the American workplace, and these losses no doubt played a role in the recession’s out-sized impact on female workers.”

    The quote alludes to it, but this also reduces American competitiveness over time. Right-wing education types like to discount the impact of class size and more intensive learning environments for students, but enough studies have shown that larger class sizes have a negative impact on student achievement that we can see the mass layoffs of teachers – or simply the lack of hiring, as older teachers retire while their benefits are still intact – as hurting the US’ economic advantages. This is where the phrase “eating our seed corn” comes in – defunding investments like education have dramatic consequences in the future.

    This, by the way, reflects the conservative model for economic growth. It says that public-sector jobs “crowd out” private-sector entrepreneurship, and that we should reduce spending – and therefore public employee jobs – while encouraging the private sector to grow. This is what that looks like.[/quote]

  7. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Now you are all aware that my expertise is not in economics, so I welcome the comments of those who are regarding how best to interpret these numbers. [/quote]

    You’re data is for county superintendents. Granda’s figures were for school district superintendents. Not the same thing…

  8. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Under Bush, the public sector grew markedly. Under Obama it has shrunk considerably.[/quote]

    LOL In other words the unemployment rate under Obama has increased markedly?

    Here is an interesting article: [url]http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/obamas-remarks-on-worst-job-growth-did-he-end-it-or-should-he-own-it/2012/05/18/gIQAkDKCZU_blog.html[/url]

    [quote]The Facts
    There’s no perfectly objective way of looking at employment numbers in this case, since people disagree about when to begin blaming Obama for the lackluster job growth of recent years and when to stop faulting Bush. Then there’s the question of when to start the clock on Bush, since he inherited a bit of a recession himself.
    We sliced the numbers at least a half dozen ways and realized that Obama and Bush could both win the award for worst jobs record, depending on what timetable we used.[/quote]

  9. David M. Greenwald

    I think these comments have gone a bit off topic. To me, the fundamental concern is Granda’s continued public dishonesty. There should be plenty of good reasons to oppose a new parcel tax without resorting to deception.

  10. Ryan Kelly

    How does Granda’s actions differ from Mike Harrington’s misinformation, accusations of fraud and other conspiracies? At least, Granda tries to explain himself. Mike always promises to, but never gets around to it.

  11. JustSaying

    [quote]“How rude….Assuming these numbers are correct (they may not be)….After talking to Richard Harris extensively afterwards, I can say your opinion is completely wrong….Also I find this statement curious: ‘These add up to $654,833’….I think these comments have gone a bit off topic.”[/quote]It didn’t take me more than a few minutes to decided I couldn’t care much less about what Jose Granda wrote, particularly since the [i]Enterprise[/i] went to great lengths to keep the record accurate.

    I’m wondering what gets you so worked up about a corrected letter to the editor in another publication? You seem to be more sensitive to Davis school issues than any other topic about which you write. This gets carried through in your responses to your own readers’ comments as well.

    You’ve written before about how please you’ve been about how successful the district has been in dealing with your family. Is that all there is to it?[quote]“But he needs to use facts, not fabrications to do so. On two different occasions (multiple times the first time) he has been caught making inaccurate and demonstrably false statements misrepresenting a whole host of things. This is not helpful to public discourse.”[/quote]How offended can we get about politicians selecting the facts they want to stretch points to their advantage? I’m sure this kind of tactic never would be allowed to show up in the [i]Vanguard[/i]. But, it’s not uncommon in the rest of the world.

    With respect to your question about “what is he suggesting, that the district can operate without (four top positions)?”–I think Granada is trying to make a point that these four folks take home a lot of money ($654,833 by his accounting). He claims that Roberson averages $30,000 more than superintendents in neighboring counties.

    He’s trying to equate this (the amount four specific people earn) with beginning teacher salary levels. Of course, he’s not suggesting that all four leaders be fired and 19 beginning teachers get hired!

    Even after medwoman, wdf1 and you have had your say about the Roberson+3 salary issue, I’m not sure I can see anything to show that his salary claims are “inaccurate and demonstrably false statements.” You’ve said that “the district is paying less than the typical district their size,” but haven’t provided any figures to challenge his. What has he said that’s not true?

    Please provide a link to your study with “standardized data” comparing DJUSD with other districts. Until we have your data, I’ll have to agree with Elaine that Granada’s salary claim “is interesting information.”

    We have to admit $190,000 is a tidy salary for a K-12 school superintendent. I’m also curious if this amount includes all the costs the district pays for his position, health insurance, retirement, other benefits?

  12. wdf1

    Justsaying: This was my reply to Granda at the online Enterprise:

    Granda: [i]Next, there is nothing inaccurate about the statements I made about the four administrators’ salaries making the equivalent of 19 teachers at their entry-level salary.[/i]

    Except that you’re comparing apples and oranges. You use the salary-only calculation of $34K to compare to the “salary plus benefits” of adminstrators, and this is based on your own posted evidence. A serious academic scholar would be careful to not have those kinds of inconsistencies. And by the way, if you look at the teachers’ salary scale ([url]http://www.djusd.net/employment/certsal1112[/url]), the lowest listed salary is $35,081. I don’t know where you got $34,127, like you posted.

    A beginning teacher with benefits and full payroll costs to the district runs closer to $60K per employee. I know that for you to say 19 teachers = four administrators makes your case look good, but realistically it = a little more than 10 teachers.

    But on top of that, it is not likely these days that the district would hire a new teacher with zero years of teaching experience. There are too many laid off teachers around. All the new teachers I’ve met recently in the district have come with prior teaching experience, so even $34K/$60K isn’t realistic.

  13. JustSaying

    wdf1, thanks for passing along your Enterprise response. What are the correct salary only and salary plus benefits figures for the four leaders under discussion and the salary plus benefits figures for the teachers? Your link lists salary only pay scales for teachers only, correct?

  14. wdf1

    JS: In 2008, the district staff was using a figure of $60K per teacher total cost to district when school board discussions of cuts and DSF fundraising were going on. In more recent years, that figure has been higher when discussed, but don’t remember exactly what. It has been higher because the lowest price teachers have more experience on the salary scale than was the case 4-5 years ago.

    About a month ago or so Granda was using a different figure: “The board employs four administrators who earn the equivalent of 15 teachers.” source ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/letters/ill-lead-no-tax-campaign/[/url]) At the time he said he based it on the figure of $60K per teacher (his website), but of course when you divide $60K into $654K, you get a number closer to 11 rather than 15. I called him on the math mistake, and that’s when he switched to $34K for some reason. For university aerospace engineering professor, he hasn’t been very careful about what figures he chooses.

  15. JustSaying

    My question is what are the accurate figures for the administrators’ and teachers’ salaries as well as their benefits costs. I couldn’t find anything on DJUSD’s site except the overall budget numbers and the teacher salary schedule.

    I understand the point Granada is trying to make, that the top four leaders cost a lot and that getting rid of a leadership position would save X teachers. Standard political talk. Why can’t we get accurate figures either for him to use or for his detractors to use?

  16. David M. Greenwald

    Just Saying: you can find some of the info here ([url]http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/26/995141/see-how-well-your-school-district.html[/url])

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