Jul 26, 2014
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After Heated Exchange, Trustee Pay Reduced by $50

Parents and Capistrano Unified's school board members question the political motivations of opposing and supporting a pay cut for trustees.

After Heated Exchange, Trustee Pay Reduced by $50

Exchanges at the Board of Trustee meeting got heated Monday when parents and trustees started questioning the motives behind a discussion to eliminate school board members’ stipends.

Trustee John Alpay said because staff was having a hard time calculating a pay decrease he first successfully proposed in June, he thought it would be easier to set a flat number, or even ditch the monthly paycheck altogether.

Trustee pay is set by board policy at $750 a month but was reduced in half in February 2008. It has not been adjusted since.

Three dads, who came to the meeting in a group of 10, spoke to the trustees, telling them that their priorities in discussing a cut in compensation were misplaced.

Parent Jared Wall called the discussion “very ill-timed, seeing that it’s 60 days before the election.” He noted a bigger concern is the number of days eliminated from the school calendar this year, which includes 45 minimum days.

“I didn’t have 45 minimum days my entire school career combined,” Wall said. “I just don’t feel that my kids have that same chance right now, and it’s ridiculous.”

While the effort to decrease trustee stipends appears to be a “decent gesture,” said dad Jevin Ferguson, he finds it “deceitful” in light of .

Ferguson is campaign manager for one of Alpay’s opponents, Steve Lang, in his race for re-election.

Trustee Sue Palazzo declared the whole thing a "circus,” but then Trustee Lynn Hatton and President Gary Pritchard said it was Palazzo who was making a political speech.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a trustee to attack another trustee on the dais,” Hatton said.

Palazzo is retiring from the board in November, but she has publicly endorsed two candidates challenging Alpay and President Gary Pritchard. She accused Alpay of flip-flopping on the issue and spending more time on trustee compensation than .

“This is the same trustee who, with the cooperation of the board president, shut down discussion of both the teachers’ contract agenda item and in June,” she said. “Way too much time has been spent on trustee stipends by this board and staff. What kind of example is this board setting?”

In the end, the board voted 7-0 to reduce trustee pay by $50, to $325.

“We need to show solidarity with our employees,” Alpay said.

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