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Federal Way Public Schools wastes tax dollars | Letter
Over the past few months, I’ve read several letters to the editor wherein the writers are concerned, annoyed and even mad as hell about the Federal Way school district. I recall that one writer vowed to spearhead a “vote no” campaign for school levies.
It seems that the common thread here is the perceived waste of school district tax dollars. As a former school district administrator, I attended several administrator meetings over the years and during one of the meetings the superintendent at the time told the staff “there are no wrong perceptions.”
Perhaps the current board and administration should take that thought to heart. Perhaps they should review the district’s history, paying particular attention to the years 1974-1981, when the community perception was quite similar.
During that time, the superintendent was forced to step down, a local resident spearheaded a group called “Save Your Home Committee,” and aggressively campaigned a “vote no” for school levies. Three elementary schools closed due to the success of that campaign. Eventually, bus transportation was cut back and provided only for students K-12 living beyond two miles from their school of attendance.
The idea of increasing the superintendent’s annual salary by $42,000, an amount greater than the annual salary of many patrons of this district, or establishing a travel budget in excess of $80,000, is good reason the perception is what it is.
The board called the $42,000 increase a performance raise. Shouldn’t the superintendent already be expected to perform the duties of a superintendent in order to receive the initial $198,000, without adding another $42,000? Did all district employees receive a raise of more than 20 percent to perform their duties?
To add to the perceived waste of school district tax dollars, there have been several instances during this administration where employees, such as bus drivers, are placed on paid administrative leave for weeks, even months at a time while the infraction for which they are placed on leave is investigated.
During this entire time they are paid their hourly rate ($19 to $20 per hour) to stay home. Keep in mind the district desires qualified bus drivers and because they are short-staffed, the shop supervisor and mechanics are taken away from their paid duties to drive buses, all while the qualified driver stays home at full pay.
If the infraction is serious, whatever happened to suspension without pay and/or termination, if necessary? And, if not too serious, perhaps a letter of reprimand and/or a short-term unpaid suspension, and then back to work. To pay employees to stay home and not perform their jobs for weeks and months at a time is not a perceived waste, it’s a genuine waste.
Perhaps a part of the superintendent’s $42,000 performance raise should be used to perform an assessment of his staff and assure these wasteful practices are curtailed and tax dollars used more wisely.
The district cannot afford an organized campaign against school levies and the constituents cannot afford the continued waste.
Jim Mast, Federal Way