District stays silent on salaries, qualifications

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The following is the transcript of a speech from the Oct. 27 Alhambra Unified School District board meeting. Simon Yung questions both the board members’ salaries and their qualifications for their positions. (Photo by Tracy Olsen CC/BY)

Good evening, members of the board, cabinet, and valued community members today. My name is Simon Yung, graduate of San Gabriel High School. This is the ninth board meeting on the issues that we keep bringing up. Nine board meetings in five months, and still no discernible answers on Nguyen’s disappearance, no answers on The Matador’s being censored and takedown of their website, and no answers on Jennifer Kim’s administrative leave after 85 days.

At the last meeting, I asked the Board to do a little homework assignment in the name of transparency and honesty for this community. I asked that the Board and company make public their qualifications and their salaries. It has been three weeks now – are you ladies and gentlemen ready to turn in your homework?*

* I was met with silence from all members of the board, as they had not prepared what I had asked for three weeks ago.

Either way, I did a little homework myself. With a little bit of Google-fu, I managed to find the incomes of the Board, cabinet superintendent, and assistant superintendents for 2014. Board members altogether take approximately $93000 in stipends and benefits home at the end of the day. This is a drop in the bucket when compared with how much the superintendent and her assistants’ salaries and benefits. In total, the taxpayers of this district were out $2.31 MILLION last year.

I am surprised with how much the superintendent and her assistants make. The superintendent and assistant superintendents’ salaries and benefits took over $1.38 MILLION out of taxpayer pockets in 2014. With an 11% pay raise being implemented this year, ballpark estimates for this year are going to be even higher. In addition, you all raked in over $133000 in bonuses in 2013. It is common practice for company executives or administrators such as yourselves to return bonuses to their workplaces. For example, Rick Holley, the CEO of Plum Creek Timber Company, returned a $2 MILLION bonus during a time of duress. I’m curious as to why this practice isn’t implemented here, especially when we hear so much about how underfunded our schools are. The $133000 in bonuses could have been used to supply a few hundred textbooks, modernize a computer lab, or even pay three starting teachers’ salaries for a year and still have some money left over.

We now have an idea on how much you make – we still don’t know what makes you qualified to run this District, however. I still need all of you to publish your resumes, where you received your post-secondary educations and your term limits. Qualifications and length of service is something to be obscured from public knowledge. The public has the right to know these things about their public officials.

In addition to not yet receiving your resumes, I have yet to hear an apology from Mrs. Joanne Russell-Chavez for her outburst at the September 9 board meeting. I asked you once already at the October 9 meeting. Instead, you laughed when I asked you to make amends for that temper tantrum of yours. I looked you dead in the eye at the end of the public comments session, hoping that you would show a smidgen of common sense – instead, you made faces at me and shrugged me off. It’s clear not only to me, but to the community you are supposed to serve that you showed a complete disregard for the concerns of the students and parents of this community. I am going to ask you one more time to apologize for not only your tirade at the September 9 board meeting, but also for your condescending behavior towards me and the people you represent.

Thank you for your time.

Simon Yung is a ’15  San Gabriel High School graduate, formerly copy editor of The Matador and current student at California State University, Los Angeles.

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