News

Grand jury: School leaders overpaid

Local administrators say report is incomplete, question its integrity

Local school officials are rolling their eyes over a civil grand jury report that lambastes the districts for "generous administrative expenses," and some said they wondered what, if any, research went into it.

The 20-page report, issued late last month, notes that several school district superintendents in Santa Clara County make more than $200,000 a year, a fact treated as evidence of school district corruption. The report admonishes school officials to trim those salaries amid huge state-mandated budget cuts, adding that community college chancellors and trustees should take cuts as well.

"Despite the draconian budget cuts facing the schools in the coming months, there appears to be little inclination on the part of the districts to reduce or even limit the amounts paid to superintendents/chancellors, assistant superintendents, presidents and boards of trustees," the report states. "It is difficult to understand or support continuing these generous administrative expenses, while at the same time teachers, staff and programs are being cut."

"As an educator, I think there are huge gaps in the research," responded Craig Goldman, chief financial officer of the Mountain View Whisman School District. "And it makes me question the conclusions. It makes me wonder if the report is a result of a political agenda as opposed to school integrity."

For example, Goldman said, the report does not compare local administrative salaries to those in other counties or states, or to those of other top officials in Santa Clara County or in California.

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Titled "Who Really Benefits from Education Dollars? (Hint: It's Not the Students)," the report also says top officials in local school districts enjoy too many perks, such as house and car allowances. The report came out on June 24, just as state politicians were debating whether to take even more funding from education in an effort to balance California's troubled budget.

The 2008-09 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury said it began the investigation due to citizen complaints over district finances. It takes only one complaint from a resident to start a civil grand jury investigation, according to Don Kawashima, the grand jury's foreman.

The 19-member grand jury looked at expense reports and documents from the 34 school districts and four community college districts in the county before drawing its conclusions. The report ends with six recommendations for schools to save money, including reducing benefits to trustees, reducing perks for superintendents and merging some districts.

According to the report, Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, had the eighth-highest salary among superintendents in the county at $210,000. This averages out to about $60 per student in the high school district. During the same period, Superintendent Maurice Ghysels of the Mountain View Whisman School District made nearly $184,000, amounting to just over $44 per student.

On average, superintendents in Santa Clara County make $26.27 per student, according to the report. The superintendent of the county Department of Education had the highest yearly salary, at $285,000, and the superintendent of Montebello Elementary, which only has one school, had the lowest salary at $46,444.

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But those comparisons are misleading considering the different challenges at the elementary, middle and high school levels, said Joe White, associate superintendent of business at Mountain View-Los Altos. He added each school district has very different demographics and student bodies.

Trustee Phil Faillace agreed, saying salaries should not be compared by the number of students. In the local high school district, for example, there are both low-income students who qualify for free lunches and students whose parents make $400,000 a year.

"That is a hard job and not many people succeed at it," Faillace said of Grove's role. "We have been fortunate to have superintendents who are doing a good job. And we are not shy at compensating them." With 17 years on his resume as a superintendent, Groves is among the most experienced in the county.

"One of the things they forgot to put in the report is the Adult School," added trustee Susan Sweeley. "That is 12,000 people we educate there. ... It is not like Barry has this cushy job."

Goldman said it's the same story in the elementary school district. "The report itself does not include a market survey of what it includes for top talents for districts," he said. "We believe what we pay is appropriate to attract top leadership."

Trustee benefits

The report also criticized school boards for approving benefits and stipends for themselves. Mountain View-Los Altos trustees spent $55,088 on stipends and medical benefits last year for the five board members. Three of the trustees have full benefits, one has none, and one uses only dental and vision benefits. The stipends go toward travel and educational expenses.

The five Mountain View Whisman trustees received $15,120 in benefits and stipends. Other school districts varied greatly, with Alum Rock trustees receiving $106,675 this year and Loma Prieta trustees receiving nothing.

"We couldn't understand why the school boards were getting medical benefits, especially in cases when the benefits exceeded those of the teachers. Board members do not work a full day like a teacher," Kawashima said.

Trustees typically meet once or twice a month to discuss policies and approve agenda items, and they participate in campus and community events.

Administrators said they were obliged to respond to the grand jury report within 90 days by filling out a survey.

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Grand jury: School leaders overpaid

Local administrators say report is incomplete, question its integrity

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 7, 2009, 10:28 am

Local school officials are rolling their eyes over a civil grand jury report that lambastes the districts for "generous administrative expenses," and some said they wondered what, if any, research went into it.

The 20-page report, issued late last month, notes that several school district superintendents in Santa Clara County make more than $200,000 a year, a fact treated as evidence of school district corruption. The report admonishes school officials to trim those salaries amid huge state-mandated budget cuts, adding that community college chancellors and trustees should take cuts as well.

"Despite the draconian budget cuts facing the schools in the coming months, there appears to be little inclination on the part of the districts to reduce or even limit the amounts paid to superintendents/chancellors, assistant superintendents, presidents and boards of trustees," the report states. "It is difficult to understand or support continuing these generous administrative expenses, while at the same time teachers, staff and programs are being cut."

"As an educator, I think there are huge gaps in the research," responded Craig Goldman, chief financial officer of the Mountain View Whisman School District. "And it makes me question the conclusions. It makes me wonder if the report is a result of a political agenda as opposed to school integrity."

For example, Goldman said, the report does not compare local administrative salaries to those in other counties or states, or to those of other top officials in Santa Clara County or in California.

Titled "Who Really Benefits from Education Dollars? (Hint: It's Not the Students)," the report also says top officials in local school districts enjoy too many perks, such as house and car allowances. The report came out on June 24, just as state politicians were debating whether to take even more funding from education in an effort to balance California's troubled budget.

The 2008-09 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury said it began the investigation due to citizen complaints over district finances. It takes only one complaint from a resident to start a civil grand jury investigation, according to Don Kawashima, the grand jury's foreman.

The 19-member grand jury looked at expense reports and documents from the 34 school districts and four community college districts in the county before drawing its conclusions. The report ends with six recommendations for schools to save money, including reducing benefits to trustees, reducing perks for superintendents and merging some districts.

According to the report, Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, had the eighth-highest salary among superintendents in the county at $210,000. This averages out to about $60 per student in the high school district. During the same period, Superintendent Maurice Ghysels of the Mountain View Whisman School District made nearly $184,000, amounting to just over $44 per student.

On average, superintendents in Santa Clara County make $26.27 per student, according to the report. The superintendent of the county Department of Education had the highest yearly salary, at $285,000, and the superintendent of Montebello Elementary, which only has one school, had the lowest salary at $46,444.

But those comparisons are misleading considering the different challenges at the elementary, middle and high school levels, said Joe White, associate superintendent of business at Mountain View-Los Altos. He added each school district has very different demographics and student bodies.

Trustee Phil Faillace agreed, saying salaries should not be compared by the number of students. In the local high school district, for example, there are both low-income students who qualify for free lunches and students whose parents make $400,000 a year.

"That is a hard job and not many people succeed at it," Faillace said of Grove's role. "We have been fortunate to have superintendents who are doing a good job. And we are not shy at compensating them." With 17 years on his resume as a superintendent, Groves is among the most experienced in the county.

"One of the things they forgot to put in the report is the Adult School," added trustee Susan Sweeley. "That is 12,000 people we educate there. ... It is not like Barry has this cushy job."

Goldman said it's the same story in the elementary school district. "The report itself does not include a market survey of what it includes for top talents for districts," he said. "We believe what we pay is appropriate to attract top leadership."

Trustee benefits

The report also criticized school boards for approving benefits and stipends for themselves. Mountain View-Los Altos trustees spent $55,088 on stipends and medical benefits last year for the five board members. Three of the trustees have full benefits, one has none, and one uses only dental and vision benefits. The stipends go toward travel and educational expenses.

The five Mountain View Whisman trustees received $15,120 in benefits and stipends. Other school districts varied greatly, with Alum Rock trustees receiving $106,675 this year and Loma Prieta trustees receiving nothing.

"We couldn't understand why the school boards were getting medical benefits, especially in cases when the benefits exceeded those of the teachers. Board members do not work a full day like a teacher," Kawashima said.

Trustees typically meet once or twice a month to discuss policies and approve agenda items, and they participate in campus and community events.

Administrators said they were obliged to respond to the grand jury report within 90 days by filling out a survey.

Comments

Dennis Rawson
Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm
Dennis Rawson, Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm

"We believe what we pay is appropriate to attract top leadership." is a mantra too often heard today. The really dedicated ones will do the job for the fulfillment it gives. Just how much does one really need to live a normal life?

Public servants should not earn many times what the average taxpayer earns. In California a four person family earns $76,775 according to a Government Census I see on the internet. That family cannot support single individuals earning many times that. They simply can't afford it. That same family most probably has more than one breadwinner, and possibly more than two jobs?

At the end of the day one needs teachers, a schoolroom, and stationery.


Andy
Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm
Andy, Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Go ahead and prove that the report is wrong. Disclose to the public the salaries of those positions.


Ned
Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm
Ned, Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Nice job, Voice. This is the kind of reporting this city and state needs to pull itself out of the hole it's in.

I'd like to see the districts pressed over the health benefits paid to the superintendents in light of the movement toward a national health plan. My teacher friends tell me the MV district is constantly pressing the union to pay more for their health plans while the report indicates the MV superintendent did not report to the grand jury the details of his. I guess it's back to seperate and unequal treatment.

The last I recall, teachers in MV haven't received a raise in 3-4 years. I could have sworn that the current superintendent was hired on at $165,000 3-4 years ago. How does his salary grow to nearly $190,000 plus travel benefits in the same time. And the car allowance. I've seen the current superintendent wheeling around on a moped between schools! He's no doubt laughing his way to the bank on it. Cut these salaries and give raises to the teachers.

Exorbitant salaries in pubic education doesn't seem right. Not given the state of the schools and the near 25% high school drop out rate. It just doesn't seem right.


Samrt Growther
Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm
Samrt Growther, Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm

So we are told that adm people are overpaid. Are they the only ones? Pretty silly to focus on one group.


Bobbie
Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm
Bobbie, Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm

What good do these overpaid administrators do anyway? When I was young, it was teacher/principal/superintendent of schools. Period. All these over-paid, self-important administrators do is to get in the way of the teachers and students, and suck up much-needed resources. We should get rid of them all!


Kyle
Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm
Kyle, Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Wow, reporting with a bite to it. Good job.

I’ve heard about the moped too.

I like to dig a little deeper into articles such as this (which by the way, I found to be a significant departure from the more fluffier stories that have appeared in this local rag.)

Google our Mountain View Whisman figurehead Ghysels and you’ll find the following link: Web Link

It appears a little unethical that Ghysels is collecting a high salary from our school district while he moonlights as a consultant (and is it me, or does the picture background look remarkably similar to my fourth grader’s yearly class picture background from a few years back which is right in front of me as I type?).

Now that the cat is out of the bag, the question that begs to be asked is, are we over-paying this guy to be our superintendent or a consultant??


vince88
Castro City
on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm
vince88, Castro City
on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm

MVLA head makes 210k with 17 years exp while MVSD head makes 184k with 3 years exp? How do I get in on this gravy train?


LASD MV Parent
Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm
LASD MV Parent, Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Even more shocking than the salaries (clearly over the top in this economy) is the fact that none of these compensations seems tied to performance.

The packages are also laden with perks that even Wall Street in all its excesses start to frown upon.

A one million dollar loan at zero interest for the County Superintendent?

A $3,000 car allowance in LASD where each of the nine schools is literally less than 2 miles from another school? Couldn't the District just buy a bicycle.... as an added bonus it would reduce health insurance costs :)


James Hoosac
another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:15 pm
James Hoosac, another community
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:15 pm

I agree that compensations for school administrators may have been a little too high in comparison of regular teachers. But, it is a bit high only in comparison with teachers.

If compared broadly, to give some examples, according to Mercury News, in 2007, VTA bus drivers Douglas H., Robert M., and others made more than $115K. A Mountain View City parks manager made $143K. A Santa Clara water district water plant operator made $133K.

If you compare what kind of education, experience, skills and pressure-taking it requires to run a school district, with what it takes to drive a bus, manage city parks, and operate water plants, you will realize that how corrupt our public sector has become.

In such comparisons, can you still say the school officials are paid too much?


Jake Gibbons
Cuernavaca
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:20 pm
Jake Gibbons, Cuernavaca
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:20 pm

James makes a good point, but let's see the teacher make more by comparison and attract the best and the brightest. Beyond that, we do have more local control and we want to see top dollars going into student programs, not into excessive salaries. Cuts are being made in programs while the MVWSD superintendent's salary rises?


Enough!
Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:25 pm
Enough!, Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:25 pm

If MV superintendent rides around on a moped, he shouldn't need an extra 6k a year for transportation expenses. Besides, if he's supposedly on board for going green and creating sustainable campuses, you would think he'd have no heart ache in returning the 6k to the school coffers. Better yet, donate it to the MV Ed foundation. They are always hitting me up, let's see them shake him done for some spare change.

What rattles me more is the fact that he's out there selling himself as a consultant on our dime. The board needs to bring the hammer down on that trick fast. If you go to the link the poster above supplied, you get the feeling after reading it that this guy has already moved on from MV. So which is it?


j.cooper
Waverly Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:33 pm
j.cooper, Waverly Park
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Many things said hit the mark. Teachers & support staff have gotten no raise, while the superintendent does. City staff is even a bigger rip off of our tax payers dollars. These guys have none of the risk of the private sector and are overpaid even to private sector standards.

Lets have some competition for city services, bidding out to the private sector. Even salaries of the police are out of hand. School Resource Officers making over 130K, more than a school principal, even in Palo Alto.

Where is the oversight of our elected officials? Time for some independent thinkers.


resident
Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:39 pm
resident, Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:39 pm

In the public sector you grab what you can whenever you can. Now let's not forget, for CALSTRS retirement it's the top three for computing retirement payouts. These guys will get this salary for life, and they'll role their benefits in to top it off. 184k turns to 200k+ when you factor it in. How's 200k a year sound in retirement folks? That's the bill we taxpayers will be paying while the average teacher tops maybe 70K. It's out of hand when it's other people's money.


Kyle
Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:43 pm
Kyle, Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Google our Mountain View Whisman figurehead Ghysels and you’ll find the following link: Web Link

I'll ask the question again:

Now that the cat is out of the bag, the question that begs to be asked is, are we over-paying this guy to be our superintendent or a consultant??


Carl
Rex Manor
on Jul 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm
Carl, Rex Manor
on Jul 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm

The consulting link is amusing to say the least. It's also troubling in that it suggests that the guy is not focused on his job to serve the public for the best interest of the schools. Self over public or public over self. Which is it?

Goldman said "The report itself does not include a market survey of what it includes for top talents for districts," he said. "We believe what we pay is appropriate to attract top leadership."

Is he serious???? The real scam is that to get into administration you have to start off as a teacher (read, get your tenure), go into administration, get all the credentials (read their restricive hiring policies--not market driven) and then join the Association of California School Administrators (read their informal union). The result is a small group of once-teachers parading as the best and the brightest in school administration. God forbid they get some real business-type CEOs or ex-military officers with vast experience in running large organizations--oh wait, they don't qualfiy since they haven't gone through this exclusive system. This is not market driven, it's a scam.


parent
another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm
parent, another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Administrator pay...."We believe what we pay is appropriate to attract top leadership."

Teacher pay....hey, everyone knows that teachers aren't in it for the money

And since when do Board members get medical benefits??!! That's an advisory board that meets twice a month with numerous other meetings and activities. Yes it's a lot of work but they are NOT employees of the district...or so I thought.

Last year the Voice ran the same story, different setting, about El Camino Hospital administrators taking in astronomical pay and benefits compared to the hard working employees who actually care for the patients.

"That is a hard job and not many people succeed at it..."oh please. Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant or picked crops in a field can tell you all about hard work. There are plenty of jobs that require hard work. No one is saying that running a school district is NOT hard work. The point is, are the limited dollars that local school districts receive being spent in a way that best benefit our STUDENTS?


letsgetreal
Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2009 at 1:07 pm
letsgetreal, Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2009 at 1:07 pm

How do we get rid of this Madoff guy, and everyone like him?


USA
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm
USA, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm

This does sound a lot like the discussions over executive pay during the Stimulus debate. As emotional as it may be, it is really just a minor issue in the overall budget. The much bigger problem is having 100 admin staffers doing the job of ten.

Think that is a harsh comment? Take a look at the State budget. Divide it by the population of CA (roughly 35 million people and about 10 million of so households). That is the average of what we pay. If you have above average income or property, you pay significantly higher than that amount. Look at the portion that goes education. Yeah, ouch. Lack of money is not the problem. How we spend it is.


James
Whisman Station
on Jul 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm
James, Whisman Station
on Jul 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm


One should probably compare the salaries with those of managers of similarly sized organizations in local industry. I think the salaries are high because salaries and cost of living in this area is high.


Bobbie
Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm
Bobbie, Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Why do these bumbling, bureaucratic dysfunctional administrators get SIX TIMES the teachers' salaries???? I say get rid of them all, let the teachers teach, pay the best ones substantially more, and assure that our kids get GOOD educations, instead of California being at the bottom in terms of education. Arghhh!

Only an idiot keeps repeating the same things, expecting different results. Remember that at the next election!!!!!


letsgetreal
Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2009 at 4:02 pm
letsgetreal, Cuesta Park
on Jul 8, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Again, what is the next step in changing this bull?


smart growther
Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2009 at 5:30 pm
smart growther, Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2009 at 5:30 pm

The next step would be to vote all incumbents out of office. But thats unlikely since I bet the same people complaining supported the current elected officials. People complain a lot but they then they go ahead and elect the officials that support these high salaries


Diane
Cuernavaca
on Jul 8, 2009 at 7:04 pm
Diane, Cuernavaca
on Jul 8, 2009 at 7:04 pm


Of course they are going to roll their eyes at the suggestion that they are overpaid. They certainly aren't going to roll over and saying they agree.

Mountain View spends more per capita on its superintendent? Why? What is the rationale? From what I understand, this is his first assignment as a Superintendent after only being an assistant superintendent at Campbell for only two years. Why do we need such high priced administrators anyway. The district office is full of them.

Articles like this are needed to expose where we are squandering money in this economy. I applaud the Voice for taking a critical eye toward such issues in such a tough economy. It's the people getting together and saying enough is enough that is going to put an end to politics, corruption, and excessive government spending as usual.


Mad as Hell
North Whisman
on Jul 8, 2009 at 7:17 pm
Mad as Hell, North Whisman
on Jul 8, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Incredible. The same school leaders that can't properly supervise an inappropriate teacher or document parent complaints make this kind of money. What a waste. I agree that now is a great time to clean up and start over. Let's vote in a new board and hire new leaders for the schools who are commited and recognize the limited resources and pay that comes with the job. Our district is too small to have this going on. And we don't even have a neighborhood school.


district insider
another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:06 pm
district insider, another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:06 pm

They negotiate raises for themselves every year. Either that or bonuses. For this report they only declared what they were asked. Put the question of bonuses to them to see how much more. Track their raises over time and compare it to the teachers and office staff. Our health benefits are constantly under siege while details of their health benefits are closely guarded secrets. We need to speak out against this, particularly when programs are being cut and parents are asked to step up with more money and contributions. It's a double standard; cry financial crisis while money is skimmed of the top of the books.


economist
Shoreline West
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:45 pm
economist, Shoreline West
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:45 pm

The board should consider furloughs for the adminstrators to cut their salaries down to size. Benefits and perks could also be cut. If they whine about their contract, just let them go. The problem is, as the report indicates, is that they have so many golden parachutes built in you would think they were nobility. The whole scenario is dispicable and shameful given the plight of our schools.


Seen it before
Whisman Station
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:47 pm
Seen it before, Whisman Station
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:47 pm

I guess part of Ghysels Countinous Improvement program is continuous pay raises. Go figure. We've been had (again).


eric
another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 9:51 pm
eric, another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Pop quiz:

What is the overall budget for the MVWSD?
How many employees?
What would be the salary for a CEO of a company that size?

Way, way more than Ghysels makes.

If you dont think the superintendant is doing an excellent job, fine-- you're mistaken, but you are entiteld to your opinion. Take it up with his boss, the board of trustees. Better yet, get involved and see whats really going on at the schools and the district.

The question of what salary is appropriate for the scope of work is a totally seperate issue, and anyone with a mid to high level role in the private sector locally would probably tell you that Ghysels is UNDERpaid!


teacher
Shoreline West
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm
teacher, Shoreline West
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm

The fault in your, logic, eric is that you accept the premise that superintendent's are comparable to CEOs. They're not. Public schools should not be compared to private companies seeking profit. These guys are always crying how they are the equivalent of CEOs. According to who? You?

Private schools get by with far less. How do they do it?

The civil grand jury presented their findings. Take your issue up with them.

Pop quiz:

What is teacher pay on average in Mountain View?
How do teacher health benefits compare with Ghysels benefits?
How have teacher raises compared to his raises?
Spell out the great acheivements of Ghysels given the flat performance of the schools.
Explain why taxpayers should keep shelling out more for less.
Then explain the blundering over the Huff teacher's reassignment to Graham.

In your world, it's no doubt all about the survival of the fittest and the supremacy of logic. I guess given your argumentation we should just keep up his high salary while programs suffer and teachers make less and less every year without raises to compensate for the cost of living. Mountain View certainly couldn't possible find any one else to take his place. Hec, let's give him another raise before a private sector firm makes him an offer he can't refuse. We just can't afford to lose him.


mel
Blossom Valley
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:24 pm
mel, Blossom Valley
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:24 pm

The last thing we need are superintendents thinking they are CEOs!!!

Bite your tongue, eric!


eric
another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:34 pm
eric, another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Why shouldnt public schools be compared with a private company? Profit has absolutely nothing to do with the equation. The equivalency is commonly accepted in business circles. If anything, the superintendant job is tougher- less layers of management,more public scrutiny and a pretty tough customer base.

I dont understand your comment about private schools. The ED of a private school organization comparable in size to our district would make comparable money to Ghysels. But the teachers would make a lot less.

Flat performance? Test scores are up while resources are down. I give more credit to the teachers, but the district office gets some too.

You are doing what everyone else here is doing-- confusing your apparant distaste for Ghysels with the salary for the JOB.


Carl
Rex Manor
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:37 pm
Carl, Rex Manor
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:37 pm

The comparison to CEOs is a joke. It's a one way door. Top performing CEOs wouldn't even be able to take over a public school district given all the obstacles preventing sanity from replaciing insanity. As I state above,

The real scam is that to get into administration you have to start off as a teacher (read, get your tenure), go into administration, get all the credentials (read, their restricive hiring policies--not market driven) and then join the Association of California School Administrators (read their informal union). The result is a small group of once-teachers parading as the best and the brightest in school administration. God forbid they get some real business-type CEOs or ex-military officers with vast experience in running large organizations--oh wait, they don't qualfiy since they haven't gone through this exclusive system. This is not market driven, it's a scam.


James Hoosac
another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:44 pm
James Hoosac, another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Allow me to jump in again.

If a VTA bus driver earns $115,000/year, a Mountain View city parks manager earns $143,000/year and a Santa Clara Water District plant operator earns $133,000/year, and you accept that is OK, then you should not complain about the salary of superintendent. In fact I would argue he is underpaid in comparison.

I believe we are picking the wrong target. We should focus on the waste in other branches of our government. How often do you see a VTA bus full of passengers?


teacher
Shoreline West
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm
teacher, Shoreline West
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm

No, eric, you are veering of course making this not about the findings of the civil grand jury--county wide--but more about your overly apparent approval of Ghysels.

Test scores are slightly up in some schools, but negated by a decline in other schools. Test scores also are propped up by higher income neighborhoods, while the lower income ones are dropping.

As the article states, there are some Draconian cuts coming for education. The superintendents should not be immune to them, even if they are the equivalent of CEOs in your mind.

POP QUIZ: How many CEOs have lost their jobs in this economy or taken a severe cut in pay?


Carl
Rex Manor
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm
Carl, Rex Manor
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm

James, there is still plenty of hurt, in terms of lay-offs and the elimination of abuses, coming to the public sector and the effects will be felt for a long time. To suggest that we not focus on the impending financial crisis that is about to hit public schools is ludicrous.


eric
another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 12:13 am
eric, another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 12:13 am

I've been critical of the district and Ghysels on these forums, but it would not be realistic to expect you to track that down.

CEOs that are taking pay cuts are generally compensated more through options. A CEO of a district or similar entity dont have that avenue available to them, so your comparison doesnt fly.

I re-read my comments on this thread, and the few things I've referenced that were specific to our superintendant were responses to you, so I dont quite see how I'm the one veering off course. The superintendant of our district is entitled to a hearty salary based on the scope of the job, since he or she IS the equivalent of the CEO of a smallish company. Seperately, as a parent, I am pleased with the performance of the top management of the district. There is really no connection between these two facts in my mind.


Steve
The Crossings
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:32 am
Steve, The Crossings
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:32 am

I've read the article and skimmed through most of the posts. These issues really need to be aired out and thrashed. To attempt to figuratively shut it down with false comparisons to CEOs is disappointing.

I think eric, in many of his posts, is more concerned with identifying circular arguments that can begin and end with his points and appeals to logic. That seems fair. However, public discourse rarely involves firm logic. Interest groups play too big a role for one thing. I too disagree with the comparison that superintendents should be viewed as the equivalent of CEOs. Where is this written? How did we get to this point? More importantly, how are we going to get out of this mess. Asking lots of questions is usually the place to begin to find solutions.

The amount of fair compensation is the crux of much of the national debate regarding the current crisis we are in. California is in a particularly bad position and all reporting suggests that more cuts are coming to public schools. The topic and discussion here is timely and important. Many claim that schools cannot take any more cuts. This report and article highlight an area where overpayments and waste could be occuring as reported by an independent body much like the Congressional Budget Office. The question to ask is where will the next set of cuts in education be directed at? At student programs? At teacher salaries? At curriculum? What are the priorities in effect? How will the quality of education be eroded over time due to increasing cuts? Can anything really be saved at this point? If we continue to tax, we risk an even longer recession.

When we see a reported $6,000 in transportation allowance, are we not allowed to raise a flag? Why doesn't the board request a monthly submittal of mileage or travel receipts? Why the blanket payment? This is basically what the report asks. Why doesn't the board authorize the purchase of a car for the superintendent Over 5 years they are buying one anyway and could perhaps keep it running for 10 years--and this while the man is seen riding around on a moped! Bad call on his part I suppose, while it almost argues for the purchase of a fleet of bicycles for the district staff in such a small community. Who knows, it might even lower health costs!

Then there are the high legal costs that districts are incurring. This sounds all too familiar as a formula. The only ones making money at the end of the day will be the superintendents/CEOs and lawyers.

One other point worthy of discussion is the link referenced a few times above to the Mountain View superintendent's side job as a consultant. How many other superintendents are engaged in this type of moonlighting? Is this appropriate? I really don't know. My sense is that is doesn't feel right. If you go to the link, you are left with the impression that he is no longer even a superintendent with public responsibilities. This troubles me.

These are my thought. I think the discussion needs to continue. We have to find solutions to save our schools while not going bankrupt at the same time. How have generations before us done it? Why can't we get it done? What does it say about our national character?


Fanny Mae
another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:53 am
Fanny Mae, another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:53 am

I just want some change I can believe in. This all sounds way too familiar and depresses me.


k
Monta Loma
on Jul 9, 2009 at 9:30 am
k, Monta Loma
on Jul 9, 2009 at 9:30 am

This right here shows the problem,

Web Link

SJ School Official Gets $300K Golden Parachute Reporting
Len Ramirez
E-mail SAN JOSE (CBS 5) ¯

A controversial severance deal paid out to a departing school superintendent has parents and residents riled up in San Jose's Alum Rock Union School District. And now, Alum Rock parents and community leaders are organizing against last week's decision by the Alum Rock School Board to pay out $300,000 to its superintendent Norma Martinez, who had just resigned.

"There was complete outrage. It was appalling. I thought it was criminal," said parent volunteer Sandra Straten.

Board member Tanya Friedenberger was out sick the night the board met. She said she read about the details of the deal in the newspaper.

"You renegotiate a contract for someone who has just resigned, and then you go out in open session and say her contract has been renegotiated again for 18-months payoff, with medical and dental benefits for her and her husband until they're 65!" said Friedenberger, who is quite upset.

She said the board didn't give adequate notice of the meeting, and she plans to complain to the district attorney.

Meanwhile, the board's president Frank Chavez said, without elaborating, that the board did what was right. Superintendent Martinez could not be reached for comment.

See the video on the link

Web Link


now private school parent
Waverly Park
on Jul 9, 2009 at 10:27 am
now private school parent, Waverly Park
on Jul 9, 2009 at 10:27 am

If you want "change you can believe in" then vote out the incumbents local all the way to federal. Elect those who are in favor of charter schools, abolishing tenure, cutting admin and overhead expenses. Get rid of at least one adminstrator, ban side jobs, and sack the clowns who appeased and enabled Polifrone's career.
I have no beefs with the salary levels, only the lack of competence and accountability of the public employees.
Unfortunately we had to vote with our feet.


James Hoosac
another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm
James Hoosac, another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm

If you look at the average spending per K-12 student, California is close to the national bottom. While you can argue about the inequalities in compensation, or some unprofessional behaviors of individual superintendents, I don't think such in-fighting will help to resolve the fundamental problems of our education system.

Where are you when, in last year's election, Santa Clara passed yet again a sales tax increase to fund the VTA black hole, so they can have more $115K/year bus drivers? How did you vote then on the upcoming giant financial black hole called California High Speed Rail?

In comparison, the salaries of superintendents are peanuts.

First, what we need is to increase the overall input into education, including salaries of all teachers. For example, how about repeal the VTA sales tax and use the revenue to boost local education funding?

Secondly, we need to have a movement to scrap the current state and local government compensation scheme. We need to reform. What happened to GM is essentially what is going to happen to California. Unfair and insurmountable current and future pension liabilities have destroyed American auto industry, and will destroy California.


Ann
Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm
Ann, Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I am thoroughly disgusted with Ghysels. The consultant gig is being subsidized with MVWSD dollars: travel to conferences across that country, prepping for consultant jobs while on the MVWSD clock, etc. He is a sham - from start to finish. He is using our nice little school district to further his career - that is it. What has he tangibly contributed to MVWSD?


Union Member
Jackson Park
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm
Union Member, Jackson Park
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Exactly Ann.

Consider this as well. The board this year came out with a policy PROHIBITING MVWSD teachers from tutoring students for pay outside of work hours. And now we find out the superintendent is allowed to earn money as a consultant!?! SUCH HYPOCRISY IT MAKES ME SICK!! And then this same Ghysels takes every opportunity to stick us with higher health care costs year after year.

In the last three years we've gotten a one-time bonus of $500. No other raises or cost of living adjustments have been made. In the meantime Ghysels fattened his pockets with a nearly $20,000 increase.

The board will swoon and faint for anything he says since he's the one presenting them the information all the time. Just try sitting through a board meeting and listen to the board lap up information they are spoon fed. They don't even know the questions to ask half the time!

I can remember in the late 90s when our superintendents were making barely $100,000 and doing a fine job. And they weren't comparing themselves to CEOs either. The two women I remember had years of teaching experience under their belts as well. Ghysels has very few and mostly at the high school level. We've been sold a bag of you know what.


parent
Waverly Park
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:49 pm
parent, Waverly Park
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Go to the board meetings.

Go to the board meetings.

Please, mark your calendars and go to the damn board meetings!


www.mvwsd.org

The Board of Trustees generally meets the first and third Thursday of each month, except the month of July. Meetings are held at the District Office, 750-A San Pierre Way, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Members of the public are encouraged to attend these meetings.

2009-2010 Regular Board Meeting Calendar:


August 20, 2009
September 3 and 17, 2009
October 1 and 15, 2009
November 5 and 19, 2009
December 10, 2009
January 7 and 21, 2010
February 4, 2010
March 4 and 18, 2010
April 1 and 15, 2010
May 6 and 20, 2010
June 3 and 17, 2010


Enough!
Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:49 pm
Enough!, Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Careful folks. Create such a rancor and they might try to tax us again. That's the comedy of it all. The guy being overpaid is the guy who goes out and hires a consulting firm (hopefully not his own--sorry I couldn't resist that one) to test the feasability of a tax initiative succeeding so he can then ask for another pay raise. Brilliant.


Fede
Jackson Park
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:58 pm
Fede, Jackson Park
on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Exactly, they cry about money, raise our taxex and mispend it on salaries and parking lots.

Then there is the education foundation shaking us down for more with the very same Gyshels fellow on the board of directors. \

We are being played like fiddles.


Ned
Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm
Ned, Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm

From the earlier article on the looming school budget crisis:

"The state reductions could mean cutting $71 in spending per
Mountain View Whisman student for the 2008-09 school year, and $537 per student for the 2009-10 school year"

Eliminate the Superintendent's position, saving $44 per student, promote an underling to take his place, or better yet fire the HR director who botched the Polifrone case, and then hire a motivated individual who wants to work and who perhaps doesn't have a job at the moment. Then, stop spending $500,000 on a parking lot. There I've solved at least a few budget problems right off the bat sitting on my couch and no one had to hire a consultant.


Huff Parent
another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm
Huff Parent, another community
on Jul 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm

And get rid of the new PACT prinicpal to save $50,000 more.


Lee
Blossom Valley
on Jul 9, 2009 at 11:31 pm
Lee, Blossom Valley
on Jul 9, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Money well spent on good teachers and classroom supplies--books, science kits, computers--is what's needed. Money spent on admnistrators that takes money away from any of these things needs to be shored up.

The real test will be this next school year when cuts will be much deeper. These issues will resolve themselves. This is the end to high paid administrators. They've had their chance, and they've muffed it.


M
Old Mountain View
on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:19 am
M, Old Mountain View
on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:19 am

Thank you for this article! I have long wondered what the deal is with MVLA $$. I volunteered at Los Altos High and it is visually a nice school (well-kept) but they don't have really any of the newer curriculum supports most other schools have these days. They have SO much $$ but didn't seem to spend any on what goes on in the classroom directly.
The school is a majority of kids of VERY wealthy families and I think the school has to work very little to get high test scores. That the superintendent has a "very hard job" I think is a little excessive. I think most superintendents in CA would agree that the MVLA job is a "dream job" - a cakewalk compared to most other high school districts.
How much do superintendents in other, bigger high school districts get paid? San Jose? San Mateo?



CL
Jackson Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 10:29 am
CL, Jackson Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 10:29 am

I believe increasingly that Mountain View residents and Californians in general are beginning to see that there are many ways in which tax dollars are being squandered needlessly. Waste and abuse has been on the rise in CA for the past few decades. There are so many places where we can save in our schools, while delivering more money into the classroom. We have to run our schools like we run our own budgets. When you run out of money at the end of the day, you need to trim down in areas such as those highlighted by this report.


School Parent
Jackson Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 10:42 am
School Parent, Jackson Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 10:42 am

Why would this issue be so difficult to solve? Axe the $6000 car allowance. Take the highest paid teacher salary (I believe around $85,000) in the district and add %50 percent to it ($42,500). There you have it $127,000 salary. All other administrators would earn less on a sliding scale of say %25-%45 percent more than the highest paid teacher. Health and all other benefits would remain the same for everyone.

Any one who tries to tell me they won't get qualified applicants banging down the door is nuts. Recruit from within if necessary. There is plenty of talent and motivation in this district to make it succeed for less cost. The problem now is that you've got overpaid administrators who whine about how much they don't make in comparison to CEOs! GIVE ME A BREAK. SHOW THEM THE DOOR.


Taxpayer
North Whisman
on Jul 10, 2009 at 11:05 am
Taxpayer, North Whisman
on Jul 10, 2009 at 11:05 am

The comparison of superintendents to CEOs is insulting. Any good CEO would know how to get around repaving a parking lot for $500,000 when it doesn't need it. CEOs tend to have extensive business and marketing backgrounds, not backgrounds in education. CEOs don't rely on tax hikes to solve cash flow problems either. CEOs become successful by thinking outside of the box, not by becoming entrenched in their own bureaucracies.


Parent Too
Shoreline West
on Jul 10, 2009 at 11:18 am
Parent Too, Shoreline West
on Jul 10, 2009 at 11:18 am

Yes, just ask yourself how many quality science kits could be bought with that 6000 dollar car allowance. How many books and classroom supplies could be bought with the 25-50000 dollars being overpaid this man?

The trouble is, even if they did cut the excesses out, you would never see the money saved. They are always claiming there's no money. Has a school district ever not claimed so? It's the oldest game in the book.


Don Frances
Registered user
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Jul 10, 2009 at 11:58 am
Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor
Registered user
on Jul 10, 2009 at 11:58 am

Taxpayer,

Which CEOs were you talking about? The ones running GM? Lehman Brothers?

People in this comment thread are talking about regular, hard working professionals -- your neighbors -- as though they were criminals on the make. They presume that teachers can do their work in classrooms without any kind of guidance, administrative support or oversight, i.e. bureaucracy (a dirty word). Even streamlined companies require bureaucracies and well-trained managers, let alone large organizations like school districts with many hundreds of employees and many thousands of your children to worry about.

I for one would like to make it clear that the grand jury report we wrote about, and the lock-step comments on this comment thread, in no way reflect our opinions at the Voice. Any quasi-public occupation makes you an easy target for irrational criticism, and I ought to know.


Sarah Palin
another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 11:59 am
Sarah Palin, another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 11:59 am

Consultants hiring consultants to either raise our taxes or spend millions in reconstruction when the schools were just recontructed?

Say it ain't so Joe!

And I got grief for builing a bridge to nowhere!


Taxpayer
North Whisman
on Jul 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm
Taxpayer, North Whisman
on Jul 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Huh?

I was giving readers credit for assuming I would be talking about successful and responsible CEOs of companies of the size comparable to the size of our local school districts. If you refer above, you will recognize this topic of CEOs as compared to superintendents as part of the on-going discussion. Yes, it's real easy to drag out GM and Lehman Brothers as glaringly poor examples, but isn't that just a tad far fetched and somewhat of a facile arguement?

Then you write, "They [i.e. posters] presume that teachers can do their work in classrooms without any kind of guidance, administrative support or oversight, i.e. bureaucracy (a dirty word)." Isn't this, by inference, exactly what Ms. Polifrone from Huff was doing? It's been your paper afterall that has been lambasting that issue to death. I've counted 7-8 articles on the topic over the past month, and I must say that it does tend to suggest that the opinion of the Voice is largely anti-teacher, and union and tenure, and pro-administration, particularly now that you appear to be regretful of regurgitating the SCV Civil Grand Jury report.

And no one is calling any one criminal. But is it now off limits to question excessive spending by school districts in a time of financial crisis? Again, it was your paper that carried the Grand Jury's report for pete's sake. Why did you? You read it and, by comparison, the Mountain View district appears to be spending appreciably more on its superintendent, who at the same time appears to be employed on the side as a consultant?

You really can't have it both ways. Your paper exposes problems in the schools, and in one instance thoroughly trashes the reputation of a teacher through one-sided coverage of the issue, and now you come calling for temperance of judgement?

What I see as the problem with your paper's reporting is that is largely perfunctory and far from meeting the standards of professional journalism. Issues and events concerning our schools deserve better coverage. Lately, all I have seen is rumor-filled hate mongering toward a teacher. Meanwhile the district stands mute while we are all supposed to believe they were on the ball for the past several years and there was no way to avoid any of it. Give me a break. The parents had been complaining for years that nothing had been done about it. The fault, again inferred from your reporting, would appear to lie with the over-paid administration.


Don Frances
Registered user
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Jul 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm
Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor
Registered user
on Jul 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Oh, you were only talking about the *good* CEOs. Talk about a facile argument.

This maybe is best taken point-by-point. First of all, let me address a problem which forever will plague journalists: Some readers have trouble distinguishing between what we cover and our personal opinions.

If Rush Limbaugh hates Obama, say, and we run a story saying "Limbaugh hates Obama," that doesn't mean we hate Obama. Similarly, if a grand jury puts out a report, no matter how silly or spurious, claiming that somebody is overpaid, that doesn't mean we think that. Remarks of yours here like "it was your paper that carried the Grand Jury's report for pete's sake. Why did you?" say to me that you're not getting this distinction.

Why did we run this story? Because it's news (sometimes) when a grand jury does something. And we hoped that it would spark healthy debate on school spending. We didn't "expose problems in the schools," taxpayer, we wrote about a grand jury which thinks that *it* exposed problems in the schools.

As for the Polifrone story, which is largely unrelated to this one: No, nothing we written implies, to me, that she was doing her work without support or oversight from the district. The district told us (and we reported) that they've been working on the Polifrone issue internally and can't comment. If you've inferred something else from this, I can't really help that.

I am not regretful about our grand jury story, I am not anti-teacher (my mom is a career schoolteacher), and I am not pro-administration in any special way. And no, it's not off limits to question excessive spending by a school district. All of this, again, is a case of conflating the journalist and the story.

We're not having it both ways or any way. We're putting out news for you to comment on. If you don't like our stories or think we're otherwise doing a bad job, you're welcome to your opinion. (Like I said, critics are easily come by in my line of work.) But based on what you've written here I'm more glad than ever that I made my clarification above, even if it's lost on some. Let me reiterate: When we say in a story that "The grand jury report says....." that doesn't mean we, the Voice, are saying that.


parent
Waverly Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 3:25 pm
parent, Waverly Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 3:25 pm

PLEASE go to the Board meetings!

All the commentary/comments/blogs in the world will not change one single thing in this district unless MV residents (parents of school-age children or not) go to the Board meetings and start asking questions, demanding answers, speaking up, and insisting that the Board have meaningful discussions with probing questions instead of being a rubber stamp to the district administrators.

Please do not let your energy and passion go to waste because, I promise you, the Board completely discounts this forum as negative "chatter" and does NOT take seriously ANY comments posted here.

I would love to be proven wrong on that but am not holding my breath.



www.mvwsd.org

The Board of Trustees generally meets the first and third Thursday of each month, except the month of July. Meetings are held at the District Office, 750-A San Pierre Way, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Members of the public are encouraged to attend these meetings.

2009-2010 Regular Board Meeting Calendar:

August 20, 2009

September 3 and 17, 2009

October 1 and 15, 2009

November 5 and 19, 2009

December 10, 2009

January 7 and 21, 2010

February 4, 2010

March 4 and 18, 2010

April 1 and 15, 2010

May 6 and 20, 2010

June 3 and 17, 2010


Parent
another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 3:37 pm
Parent, another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 3:37 pm

"Mountain View spends more per capita on its superintendent? Why? What is the rationale?"

The per-capita thing is kind of red herring. Palo Alto has almost three times the number of students, but the job of superintendent is not three times more difficult because of it. So I think the guy in Palo Alto is getting paid more than in MVWSD (quick calculation based on enrollment number for 08-08 I found at ed-data.com - at $22 per student, the super then would have been earning something like $246K a year); but when you divide it by 12,000 students instead of 4,000 students, you get a big difference. It's not realistic to expect it to be tied directly to the number of students in the district -- otherwise the head of LA Unified would be making a couple of million a year. Which I doubt. I would expect some salary difference, but not tied to a per-student amount.

So I think that particular measurement is meaningless, regardless what you might think of the rest of it.


Parent
another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 3:38 pm
Parent, another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Enrollment number for 07-08, sorry for the typo.


ex Huff
Waverly Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:01 pm
ex Huff, Waverly Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Why go to the board meetings? All the important stuff is in closed session. The public is ignored, the board rubber-stamps the administrators' decisions.
But we like it. We vote for nice, progressive, love the current public school system at all costs board candidates.
why is that?


Huff Parent
another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:16 pm
Huff Parent, another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I disagree. The problem is that a lot of State funding is measured per capita so the question still remains quite valid, and really isn't a red herring. The more you use of your per capita funding the less you are left with. Per capita spending on salaries would obviously cap at an appropriate level for the LA Unified example. Teacher's salaries are computed this way as well. Additionally, the tax base plays a big role. Palo Alto and Los Altos have a higher tax base to draw from, Mountain View doesn't. Either way, the approach needs to be centered on carefully accounting for every penny that does not support the teacher in the classrooom.

It's really a question of the level of entitlement an indiviual district can both justify and afford. Do supe's of districts big and small deserve similar amounts? Work your formula in reverse. Start with the Palo Alto supe's salary if you like and work back to a proportionate salary based on per capita. Cap the bottom as well to be fair. Again, paying top dollar to big and small districts alike makes little sense when funding it tied to the number of students and the tax base in a community.


Huff Parent
another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:21 pm
Huff Parent, another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:21 pm

I meant to say I disagree with parent above.

But I agree with ex Huff, the board meetings are designed to wear you down. When it comes time for public comment, they aren't allowed to engage in discussion. It's like they've forgotten what they were voted in to office for.


Union Member
Jackson Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:42 pm
Union Member, Jackson Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I just hope everyone remembers this article and comments when it comes time to renegotiating our contract this year. The sly foxes at the DO do their best to get us to pay more and more for our health benefits while telling us there is never any money for pay increases. And then you have this.

And the Voice should be ashamed of itself for publically humiliating a teacher week after week. You know who I'm talking about.


Veteran
Monta Loma
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm
Veteran, Monta Loma
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Where are all the real leaders when we need them with the courage to do the right thing and deliver us from this mess?

Oh pardon me, I forgot, they are in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Dave
Waverly Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:53 pm
Dave, Waverly Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Wow!
Apparently they are not taking calls on talk radio this week.


jane
North Whisman
on Jul 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm
jane, North Whisman
on Jul 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm

To Huff Parent:
Is there a reason that the PACT Alternative School, which is part of the District, does not deserve a principal? Your solution to the Supertindent being highly-paid is to have PACT be administered without a principal?
I suppose we could get rid of all the principals for that matter, but I doubt that the students would benefit from it. PACT students come from families that are taxpayers like everyone else and PACT students deserve an education as much as the other students in this district deserve an education.
No matter what article you comment on, I notice that you use it as an avenue to attack or berate the PACT program. "Grand jury report: School leaders overpaid" - how does that lead to ..."And get rid of the new PACT prinicpal to save $50,000 more." In other words, you want the District to have a PACT School with no principal. Sad.


Huff Parent
another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:59 pm
Huff Parent, another community
on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Jane, you can relax. My comments are about saving money, not about the precious PACT program. PACT will be located at the district office. Both should be considered a single site. It's a small program and well run. Principals are basically building managers and handle discipline. With the 5-6 administrators already at the district office, you'd think they'd be able to share the work load of PACT. If there is going to be principal, put him at a new campus, open up Slater or the old Whisman. At least give a neighborhood school back to the community. With Therakauf so close to the district office, and with PACT there too, the density of over-paid administrators on that one square block will be so high we'll be tripping over them. The problem has been that there has been little imaginative thinking to saving money. It's always spend, if we run out tax. If any one questions the status quo--and don't think PACT hasn't got it cornered--then attack. That's what this has to do with the article at hand. I could say the same at PACT defend at all costs the exclusive program with political power behind it, while other schools suffer.


Ann
Old Mountain View
on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm
Ann, Old Mountain View
on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Regarding PACT - now that we are a "basic aid" district, why are we still allowing out-of-district students into PACT (or any of our schools)? Each student that does not live in our attendance area costs us money! This is a whole different ballgame from our previous funding model where every student attending (whether they live here or not) generates funds for the school district. Those good old days are over.

I have not heard anything in the VOICE about this very important fiscal consideration for taxpayers in MVWSD. Just like MVLAHS(who has been under a "basic aid" funding model for a number of years), it is imperative that all out-of-district students be denied attendance in our district since they deplete our precious resources. They can attend their home school district. They will be fine. The only valid exception may be for the children of MVWSD teachers and employees.

Why hasn't this highly-paid superintendent dealt with this in a proactive & public/transparent manner? This very important issue! (my guess: he hopes no one will notice so he can avoid dealing with the difficult PACT parents).

How dare anyone in MVWSD even consider a new tax on us when they are not prudently managing our current funds by allowing out-of-district students to attend our schools!

This only adds fodder to the consultant fiasco. Once again I reiterate - I am disgusted with Ghysels.


Father of Three
North Whisman
on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:27 pm
Father of Three, North Whisman
on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Instead of Don Frances beating up on his posters, he should ask this superintendent why he makes most of his decision available for public release only when school lets out, when parents are less likely to congregate together, discuss matters, and organize.

The board is to blame as well.


mvwsd mom
Rex Manor
on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:53 pm
mvwsd mom, Rex Manor
on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Thanks Ann I agree. The pact and Ghysels get a big F.


Carolyn
Shoreline West
on Jul 10, 2009 at 9:45 pm
Carolyn, Shoreline West
on Jul 10, 2009 at 9:45 pm

I think the only non-MVWSD students now being accepted into PACT are siblings of current students. Of course that decision to allow that and new student registration was done before the district became a basic aid district.

Seriously, I don't understand the negativity towards PACT that is constantly brought up on this forum. The school seems well run. I don't have a student there but from everything I have seen it is a great program.


Rosamaria
Shoreline West
on Jul 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm
Rosamaria, Shoreline West
on Jul 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm

I blame the pact for everything a bunch of self serving parents they never cared what there program did to the rest of the students or the cost, its all about them. What are you really teaching your kids? Shame full.


USA
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jul 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm
USA, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm

"we hoped that it would spark healthy debate'

Bwahahah ... Good one, Don.


eric
another community
on Jul 12, 2009 at 10:43 pm
eric, another community
on Jul 12, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Ann, I find your comments pretty sad. Anyone paying attention knows that it is virtually impossible to get into the district from outside now-- now that we're basic aid (which JUST happened) I have heard that it might even be tough for siblings.

Outrage from the uniformed is of little use or interest to me


Ann
Old Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2009 at 12:36 pm
Ann, Old Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2009 at 12:36 pm

The concern about out-of-district students in MVWSD stands.

Over and above enrolling any new out-of-district students - there are many continuing out-of-district students that should be returning to their own attendance area districts. They will be fine.

Every student attending one of our schools who does not live in our attendance area depletes our scarce resources.

Why hasn't this highly-paid superintendent dealt with this in a proactive & public/transparent manner? This is a very important issue!

How dare anyone in MVWSD even consider a new tax on us when they are not prudently managing our current funds by allowing out-of-district students to attend our schools!


eric
another community
on Jul 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm
eric, another community
on Jul 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm

so, Ann-- you would kick kids out of their schools? I find you lacking in both business sense and morals

- MVWSD may not be basic aid forever (my understanding is that either the high school dist or the LA elementary district bounces in and out of that status- I dont recall which offhand). In the likely event that someday we are no longer basic aid, your approach would be a hinderance to recruting.

-Forcibly removing a child from their established school environment for an inconsequential bump in per-student funds is repugnant. I assume that you have at least done the math to see how much revenue you're talking about. No? You havent? Ah.

How do you know how the district is dealing with this issue? Do they need to take a vote and call a press conference on every day-to-day business item to make you happy?

Get involved, get your facts straight, or pipe down.


Carolyn
Shoreline West
on Jul 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm
Carolyn, Shoreline West
on Jul 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Rosamaria, comments like yours are exactly the kind I don't understand. The criticism of PACT I see on here is usually generically negative and unspecific. What exactly is the program doing to our kids? Maybe I am missing something because I don't see it. When PACT moved to Castro I thought long and hard about sending my child there (it was much closer than our neighborhood school!). In the end I went with the neighborhood school, but I know several families who go to PACT and they all think it is amazing. So when I see the random pot shots I wonder what the motive is behind it. Because I really do not understand.


Resident
Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2009 at 6:06 pm
Resident, Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2009 at 6:06 pm

eric-

You're right, the CEO comparison is perfect. And Ghysels hails from one of the ultimate CEO fiascos--Citibank--where he did a few years. Is that where he became accustomed to a nice fat salary? Isn't it amazing now when Citi is partially owned by taxpayers (like the one grilled above by Don Frances) and while our own superintendent, along with the current CEOs and executive officers of Citi keep trying to argue for more compensation. If I remember correctly, he also was a CEO of an educational firm out in Pleasanton which he also helped run aground. So yes, the CEO comparison is apt. And we should just keep shelling out more taxpayer money to them. Oh yes, they'll find a way to spin a profit or make something positive of it all, but in the end the taxpayers will be left on the street and their children without adequate supplies in and well-paid and motivated teachers in the classroom.

Mountain View Voice, Friday, July 01, 2005

Despite his years of experience as an educator, in the late 1990s Ghysels took a break from schools. He moved to New York City to work as a vice president of Citibank for five years, then returned to the Bay Area to work as the chief learning officer of a consulting company for a year.

When Ghysels, who will earn $165,000 a year, officially begins his four-year contract July 25, the first item on his agenda will be to introduce himself to the community and reassure its members that he will stay longer than his predecessors.

[In return he will get a $5,000 a year raise while the teachers and staff get nothing... yep that's fair and that's progress. No need for alarm. Save that for when he renegotiates his next contract... get ready for Citi-type tactics for increased compensation.]


ann
Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm
ann, Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm

This thread is about the highly paid superintendents.

Are we getting our money's worth?

Questions remain.

We should question our school boards and hold them accountable. They approve superintendets'contracts (including salaries & benefits) and evaluate work performance.

When nonsense or mismanagement is detected, it should be vigorously pursued. They (not the superintendent) are the ones that hold ultimate responsbility for our school districts.

Trustees need to go beyond the spoon-feeding they get from the superintendent and dig deeper so they are not blind-sighted (such as with the case of the out-of-district students' impact on a basic aid district).

(side note: Eric - you must be a PACT parent!)


princetondad
Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2009 at 4:53 pm
princetondad, Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Maybe this is why there's no summer school this year. When a school district runs out of money, it needs to start looking at where it can make cutbacks. High salaries looks like a good place to start.


jon
Castro City
on Jul 18, 2009 at 7:38 am
jon, Castro City
on Jul 18, 2009 at 7:38 am

Exactly. No money for summer school? Hmm, I wonder how that happened.


Why?
Sylvan Park
on Jul 18, 2009 at 1:44 pm
Why?, Sylvan Park
on Jul 18, 2009 at 1:44 pm

The guy;s been on the job three years and has gotten a $19,000 raise? And the last year was during a recession??? Incredible. Send him packing.


Oh Please
Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2009 at 8:07 pm
Oh Please, Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2009 at 8:07 pm

The supe's salary goes from $165,00 to $184,000, with the last year being during a recession? Something tells me these salary increases are built into the contract and will keep going up. Where's the limit? Why do we put up with this?


frustrated teacher!!
Monta Loma
on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:06 pm
frustrated teacher!!, Monta Loma
on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:06 pm

It isn't surprising when you really know the superintendent - he is an arrogant man. He can be degrading and doesn't really care (even though he says he does) about what anyone else has to say. He doesn't accept input, even if he asks for it. Ghysels needs to go! Teachers are told repeatedly, there is NO $$ for them, yet he willingly accepts an increase? He needs to give back to the schools what he has been taking for years. He wants all the credit for any raising of test scores - yet he doesn't work with the students. He demands that the teachers use all of the new and upcoming programs (Continuous Improvement, Board Math, Language Arts Boards, Professional Learning Communities and several NEW positions have been created for Instructional Facilitators - to work with teachers), these programs actually give teachers LESS time to work with the students. I want to see him work in each grade level, instructing children for at least a full week (at each grade level). Make him get out of his office - NO meetings! Make him work with the students. Then we will see if he can practice what he preaches - we will see if he can earn his money.


Larry
Shoreline West
on Jul 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm
Larry, Shoreline West
on Jul 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I took a look at the report, and contrary to the Voice editorial, I found the methodology and data to be suggestive of more than a few problems. In the comments above many here have over looked the issue of the law firms that are draining valuable resources from the schools.

Two further things stand out in my mind from the comments. The first is that repaved parking lot at Graham. What a waste of money that certainly won't contribute to learning taking place in a classroom. Second, the superintendent's consulting gig on the side. The board needs to put an end to that. That's not what he's being paid to do and he should know better.

I've never been impressed with the local schools in Mountain View, particularly how poorly they compare with surrounding cities. The chief difference I have noticed in Mountain View is an overall lack of community involvement and participation on the school board.


frustrated parent!!
Monta Loma
on Jul 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm
frustrated parent!!, Monta Loma
on Jul 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I concur with frustrated teacher. Lots of money has been wasted in this school district on an unproven superintendent peddling CI. I've taken a look at some of the material and have listened to my children try to explain how it fits in the classroom. It's been two years now and this paper would be better off exposing how much money has been thrown down the CI hole and what it's gotten us in return.

The Voice put it best in its reporting back on August 24 2007

On the minus side, the district is adopting a relatively experimental technique that has been tried by only a small handful of school districts around the country. We worry that this system may put many years of teaching experience behind the whims of children who, by definition, have no experience.

We have another, more abstract concern as well: CI is rife with corporate-world jargon, going so far as to refer to students and parents as "customers" and "stakeholders."

We find this distasteful and potentially dangerous, because using these words blurs the distinction between the business world and our public education system. By getting people to accept this rhetoric, the district takes a step toward the privatization of public schools, intentionally or not.

More to the point, students are not customers. And despite the old adage, they aren't always right.


Steph
Jackson Park
on Jul 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm
Steph, Jackson Park
on Jul 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm

The MV head should be given Ms. P.'s class as an added duty and a lesson to be learned, especially if he's able to take time to moonlight as a consultant.


taxpayer
Jackson Park
on Jul 29, 2009 at 5:18 pm
taxpayer, Jackson Park
on Jul 29, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Public hospital administrators, public school administrators, and city employees all generously paid with excellent benefits.. and the state is billions in debt.... is it me, or is something becoming rather obvious here?


marvin
Monta Loma
on Aug 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm
marvin, Monta Loma
on Aug 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm

If the schools would just teach reading, writing, and math, and critical thinking they wouldn't need highly-paid administrators. Nothing changed in the last 30-40 years, or even 100 years, where you need all these administrators. Teach the basics and be done with it. Currently, though, the schools can't even seem to do that. Give the power--and the money--back to the teachers and the classrooms.


Vote
Monta Loma
on Aug 3, 2009 at 10:18 pm
Vote, Monta Loma
on Aug 3, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Vote out the board and put an end to all this.


High Expectation
Blossom Valley
on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:23 pm
High Expectation, Blossom Valley
on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I'll be expecting great things this year for my daughters this year. Last year I was unimpressed by their experience at Landels, which delivers a mediocre educational experience at best.

I'd also like to see less money thrown at the "continuous improvement" agenda, one which seems to distract from more common sense teaching of the basics.


Parent
another community
on Aug 14, 2009 at 7:50 am
Parent, another community
on Aug 14, 2009 at 7:50 am

Everyone needs to go to the board meetings and demand accountability and change.


NEd
Old Mountain View
on Aug 27, 2009 at 6:48 pm
NEd, Old Mountain View
on Aug 27, 2009 at 6:48 pm

"We're almost sure that we'll go into Program Improvement," Lairon said. "But what we're going to celebrate is progress."

So this is what we get for our $189,000! I'd like to sell the district a bridge now.

The money would have been better spent on attracting and retaining quality teachers and promoting their professional development other than Continuous Improvement which is clearly not working.


klt82
Monta Loma
on Aug 27, 2009 at 9:22 pm
klt82, Monta Loma
on Aug 27, 2009 at 9:22 pm

The Continuous Improvement program is a waste of money and just confuses by child. It needs to be replaced by something that devotes more attention to the basics. My child's test scores dropped and she was getting good grades so I thought. I am definitely not pleased with the situation.


Castro Parent
another community
on Aug 29, 2009 at 9:15 pm
Castro Parent, another community
on Aug 29, 2009 at 9:15 pm

My second grader's scores went down last year! And we are just a plain old white family, not immigrants. If her scores went down, I'd hate to think of what happened to the immigrants' scores.

I second the call that the thing they call 'Continuous Improvement' must go! And send the over paid bums packing with it. The reason they never claim to put much value in the scores is that they are afraid they will become tied to their performance expectations as superintendents.


Zac
Sylvan Park
on Aug 30, 2009 at 3:38 pm
Zac, Sylvan Park
on Aug 30, 2009 at 3:38 pm

I still can't believe they repaved the Graham Middle School parking lot. Money to burn.


Bill
Waverly Park
on Aug 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm
Bill, Waverly Park
on Aug 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm

The entire district will be placed under program improvement and we're paying these people for what? The results do not merit the pay they are receiving.


Ed Observer
Cuernavaca
on Sep 1, 2009 at 6:59 pm
Ed Observer, Cuernavaca
on Sep 1, 2009 at 6:59 pm

I notice there's no disclosure of the amount spent on Ghysels' health care plan. Since he's been engaged in a relentless campaign to take more and more away from teachers' health care over the past few years, I find this quite ironic.


Jay
Old Mountain View
on Sep 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm
Jay, Old Mountain View
on Sep 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm

It's time to send this guy packing!!!!


Steve
The Crossings
on Sep 9, 2009 at 7:08 am
Steve, The Crossings
on Sep 9, 2009 at 7:08 am

The manner in which this administration dealt with the Polifrone issue should be enough to show them the door, particularly given the amount they are being paid to do a poor job.

Say what you like, but fourth grade STAR scores at Huff were way up this last year, and mostly due to Polifrones tough love approach.

I say put some blame on the Voice for running a witch hunt based on rumor. I know I sure would hate to be tried and convicted in the newspaper by the words of middle schoolers and a few disgruntled parents.

But far more blame goes to the MVWSD adminstrators of all this. The wizards of spin, who time and again lack the courage and integrity to stand up and admit there's a problem, and moreover fix it.

These people would have been long gone in any real professional organization with a bottom line.


Put Kids First
Cuesta Park
on Sep 14, 2009 at 9:46 pm
Put Kids First, Cuesta Park
on Sep 14, 2009 at 9:46 pm

I guess the Santa Clara County Office of Education hasn't read that Grand Jury report. On Wednesday it is planning to vote on one of its bylaws:

Web Link

offering its board members management level health benefits???

.... shameful...



Larry Owin
Blossom Valley
on Sep 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm
Larry Owin, Blossom Valley
on Sep 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Thanks for the link. The scam never ends. Typical politicians. They claim they run for the boards for the good of education, yet all they really want to do is line their own pockets!


Abe
Cuesta Park
on Sep 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm
Abe, Cuesta Park
on Sep 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I question the premise of even needing a superintendent in Mountain View. Decision power should remain in the school communities.

The district offices should be made up of mid-level managers who facilitate the autonomy of the individual schools.

The problem is that we've got federal, state, county, local district administrations, all top-heavy, and all draining valuable resources from the classrooms.


Rot and the Top
Cuernavaca
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm
Rot and the Top, Cuernavaca
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm

This is why teacher and staff are being laid off. It's time to slash salaries of the highest paid. Why are they always the last ones on the chopping block?

It's a crime.


Lin
Castro City
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:46 pm
Lin, Castro City
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:46 pm

The is coruption for people in mountan view. No good and must stop


Dean F.
Blossom Valley
on Sep 26, 2009 at 7:49 pm
Dean F., Blossom Valley
on Sep 26, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I stumbled across this thread and am outraged that the local school boards have not taken up this issue as a serious matter.

Our schools are in crisis and we are spending lavishly on leaders who are delivering poor results in Mountain View elementary schools.

It seems only obvious that the large bureaucracies that the schools support should be trimmed down.


Sue
Monta Loma
on Sep 27, 2009 at 8:30 am
Sue, Monta Loma
on Sep 27, 2009 at 8:30 am

This sounds like the GOALS incentive program run at the MV middle schools. You have to continually buy-off these superintendents into doing their basic jobs. Just more waste when we can't afford it.


Carolynne
another community
on Sep 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm
Carolynne, another community
on Sep 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

About 4 or 5 years ago, our corrupt superintendent of Marysville Joint Unified School district left for a superintendent position at Berryessa School District in San Jose. Marysville was left nearly bankrupt after this individual was there. He travelled the world, had $70,000 cars but drove district vehicles until he was ordered to stop. He had expensive parties at his mansion but had the district secretaries go set up for him during work hours.

When former Governor Davis offered %10 raises to teachers he made the mistake of not earmarking those raises. The teachers were "awarded" a 3% raise. His computer guru is in prison now for selling district computers on ebay. This person also left as things became heated for a computer guru position in Palm Springs School District. He got caught. I don't think he is only one at fault here and neither does anyone else.

WHY? WHY? Is this corruption continuing in our schools? How in the world can this people sleep at night knowing they are cheating countless children? How can the boards that hire these despicable people sleep at night either?

Berryessa School District probably should do some investigating NOW.


Obeserver
Old Mountain View
on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:30 pm
Obeserver, Old Mountain View
on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:30 pm

We need to keep this topic alive. The school board needs to take a stand and say, you get into education not for the money but to provide futures for children with currently bleak ones. Anyone who justifies their salaries like these clowns in light of that statement are bloated egotistical clowns.

Just point to the example of our past Mayor Stasek who sadly passed away in Afghanistan. There's an example of the leader we need here in our schools.


District Mom
Blossom Valley
on Oct 6, 2009 at 6:02 pm
District Mom, Blossom Valley
on Oct 6, 2009 at 6:02 pm

I've always questioned the ethics of these supes. One perk not mentioned here is the way the males ones, including our own, are always chasing skirts within the district. It's outrageous and the board should not put up with such predators. Give them too much power and money and they think they are gods.


Buffy
Monta Loma
on Oct 6, 2009 at 6:32 pm
Buffy, Monta Loma
on Oct 6, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Yes, District Mom, you pretty much nailed it there. Definitely, a few are of questionable ethics.

But hey, if Letterman can get away with it, why not the superintendent?

It makes me wonder if this is how the so-called district leaders are selected for the jobs they are paraded out for at the last minute over the summer. It makes me wonder what we are talking about when we look at some one's qualifications? It's all pretty sordid. Moms and teachers beware!


Landels parent
Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2009 at 7:40 pm
Landels parent, Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2009 at 7:40 pm

I guess it beats riding a moped.


Teacher
another community
on Oct 7, 2009 at 5:41 am
Teacher, another community
on Oct 7, 2009 at 5:41 am

I guess the MVWSD board still didn't feel Ghysels was getting enough, so they give him another 2% raise!!!!! And with professional improprieties to boot!!!!

Given the district is flush with money, I'll expect teachers and staff to get the very same 2% raise.


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