Protest Scares Morongo School Board Out Of Giving Superintendent Anticipated Raise

JOSHUA TREE (May 27)—Concerted and vigorous opposition by members of the public and a group of teachers succeeded in convincing the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education to not confer a raise upon district superintendent Dr. Cecelia English last week.
English has been with the district for roughly a year. An agenda item at last week’s board meeting proposed that she and the district’s three assistant superintendents, Doug Weller, Tom Baumgarten and David Price, receive raises in pay.
The board, however, was greeted by speaker after speaker expressing opposition to the raise for English in particular, given her relatively short tenure in the post.
In March members of the Morongo Teachers’ Association express the opinion that English was not bargaining in good faith with them over salary issues.
A point of contention last week was a clause within the four proposed contracts that granted the superintendent and assistant superintendents raises that match in terms of percentage those  negotiated by the Morongo Teachers’ Association and the California School Employees Association.
The propriety of conferring upon the district’s administrators the same employment terms given to the district’s personnel when those administrators may be involved in negotiating the terms was called into question.
Moreover, board member Karalee Hargrove expressed the view that English had been provided with a substantial increase in pay over what she had been paid as the director of academics at the Newark School District in Northern California, where she was working before being hired by Morongo Valley Unified.  “We cannot afford to do any more raises at this point,” Hargrove said.
Board member Chris Proudfoot sought to avoid an immediate decision on the raises, saying the district needed to make “comparisons” with what other similarly sized districts are paying their personnel. The rest of the board, however, pressed forward, giving Weller, Baumgarten and Price 5.77 percent raises, raising Weller and Baumgarten to $132,109 per year and Price to $129,555 per year. Those were approved on a unanimous vote.
Only board member Donna Munoz supported giving English a raise, and the motion to approve English’s pay increase died on a 1-4 vote.

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