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Like many school districts in California, Sweetwater Union High School District has been hit hard, financially. In anticipation of a $20 million shortfall, in March the district sent out over 200 pink slips to teachers, librarians, and counselors. But do pink slips aggravate the district’s financial situation?

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report last month that gives taxpayers an understanding of the cost of pink slips. The report states: “Our survey indicates that districts on average spend roughly $700 per–noticed teacher, with the largest costs relating to district personnel and legal activities. With the cost estimates derived from our survey, we estimate that districts spent about $14 million statewide on layoff-related costs in 2010–11.”

Sweetwater’s costs continue to climb because pink-slipped teachers have a right to a hearing and the district pays for their substitutes. According to Alex Anguiano, president of the Sweetwater Teachers Association, hearings that took place on April 27 resulted in 19 layoffs being rescinded due to district errors. “Additional errors in calculating tie- breaking criteria may result in 40–50 more notices being rescinded.”

Anguiano called the pink-slip hearings “costly and unnecessary.” In the face of the last budget crisis, Anguiano said the association proved they were reasonable by consenting in advance to at least six furlough days.

In addition to costs, Anguiano is concerned about the chaos students will experience in the fall. “The master schedule is going to be a nightmare,” he said. Classes for the new school year will be staffed with fewer teachers. He estimates there is a loss of 189 full-time equivalent positions at this point and is anxious to know how the district will be able to honor the student-pupil staffing ratio that is in place.

Kris Elam, a U.S. history teacher in the district, is nervously waiting for the May 7 board meeting to find out if her pink slip becomes a permanent layoff. In an April 28 interview, Elam explained the cost of pink slips in human terms.:

“One big problem is I am single and have a mortgage. Many of my colleagues who might be laid-off have partners who can help them with money or health benefits. I don’t have anyone to fall back on. What am I going to do, move in with my mother?” Four times in the last five years she has received a pink slip.

If Elam is laid-off she loses her health benefits at the end of June and “even if the budgetary problems get better and I am hired back in July, I won’t receive a paycheck until the end of September.”

Personal stories like Elam’s might account for this additional fact taken from the state legislature’s report: “Reductions to school districts' budgets over the past five years have resulted in a sharp decline in the teacher workforce, with the number of full–time teachers decreasing by 32,000 since 2007–08.”

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erupting April 29, 2012 @ 8:58 a.m.

This would be less painful for the teachers I believe if the district was not involved in wasting money at this time on a Charter school and IPAD's for incoming 7th graders. Unfortunately the interim superintendent does not agree. It's scarey because he has as much clout as Gandara did. Bet he becomes the new superintendent at least until the recall and district attorney is done with the corruption charges of the board members. Then we will watch Brandara leave with his tail between his legs.


eastlaker April 29, 2012 @ 9:42 a.m.

This cannot be repeated too often: what is going on in the Sweetwater School District is nothing short of criminal--if you want to call it criminal negligence, you would have to presuppose a lack of intent. Unfortunately, the intent is all too clear. The enrichment that is taking place is not the learning environment of the students, but the pockets of the school board members and the administration. Look into Brand's history. His track record speaks for itself. And the fact that the board wanted him back indicates to me that what the majority wants, more than anything else, is someone who will lead them into greener pastures that they can then strip bare of all resources, leaving a wasteland for the students.

Wasting time, money, not to mention the future the students should have--but will not have.

Please, people--become concerned and work to bring truth and light into Sweetwater.

Sign the recall petitions at the Bonita chili cookoff today between the hours of 11 & 4.


Visduh April 29, 2012 @ 11:20 a.m.

Brand was a walking, talking joke during his career. Prior to leaving teaching he had a total of one year . . . as a PE teacher. Yes, folks, he never was a classroom teacher. He went into counseling which is often the first step on the administration career ladder, and then into various admin jobs in schools and the district headquarters. For a time he was actually a high school principal in Escondido. He's been a typical career climber all his adult life, and save for a major stumble in San Marcos, where he was properly cashiered, has kept moving up. The district, in hiring him back, was looking for a hired gun to come in and restore order, but the order they wanted was not reform, it was to perpetuate and reinforce the embedded corruption that was starting to unravel. Any diversions of funds into things like iPads or efforts put into charter schools are utterly inappropriate at this time, given the steadily-shrinking state support. But that won't dissuade Brand or his cohorts on the board. They'll stay this course until they are out of office and/or in prison.


jibaro April 29, 2012 @ 2:49 p.m.

Dr. Brand taught physics and coached wrestling for several years at Southwest High School in the late 1970's. The guy maybe a crook to some, but at one time he was a very effective teacher.


Visduh April 29, 2012 @ 9:52 p.m.

Are you sure you're talking about the same Ed Brand who is now the supe? Everything I've ever read about him had him starting his career at Orange Glen High in Escondido, working his way up the ladder and becoming the principal there in the mid-80's and then heading to Sweetwater and later becoming their supe. I find it hard to believe that he's been at it since the late 70's, considering his age, and wildly hard to believe he ever taught physics, for Pete's sake. Look again, please.


tomjohnston April 30, 2012 @ 11:42 a.m.

Actually, his bio page on the SUHSD board members page has him starting his career at Southwest HS. He wrote that he taught math and science, and coached sports before moving into admin. I have a cousin who taught in Sweetwater for a long time. She says it's the same guy.


eastlaker April 30, 2012 @ 2:50 p.m.

Brand may have more than one bio floating around out there. The earliest days may not have been included in bios from the San Carlos era--he might have wanted to stress his experience in north county at that time. Which is why there is some confusion. But that is by far the least of all the sources of confusion!!


anniej April 30, 2012 @ 8:36 p.m.

at the last board meeting brand made mention that he was a science teacher.

maybe that is the answer, maybe he should have stayed in the classroom and out of administration.


cvres April 29, 2012 @ 12:42 p.m.

The incredible irony in all this corruption and cronyism is that the people working with the kids are being laid off or shuffled or possibly having their class size increased.


anniej April 30, 2012 @ 8:38 p.m.

many sat at the last board meeting in tears listening to those who stood up at the podium and spoke of their hardships. one young woman speaking of her husband being deployed and immediately after receiving a pink slip. another gentleman, at a previous meeting shared that both he and wife received a pink slip.

how do they do it, i do not know. but one thing i do know is that they deserve sooooooooo much better.


SurfPuppy619 April 29, 2012 @ 1 p.m.

Ed Brand is typical of gov, especially managers-lousy and no accountability at all, at any level.


eastlaker April 30, 2012 @ 11:59 a.m.

Then there is the matter of his schemes, which are clearly not well thought out (400 Chinese students paying to attend public school here--illegal; iPADS to be given out to all incoming 7th graders--blatent attempt at bribing students to stick with Sweetwater when there are options available; I even heard something about a K through college plan???; charter schools being given funding when teachers are being cut and established schools are scrambling???).

I cannot comprehend how someone as "out there", as fiscally irresponsible, as arrogant and as oblivious to the public's dissatisfaction with his and the board's performance can continue down this road.

Please, somehow we need to put the brakes on all of this nonsense.


anniej April 30, 2012 @ 8:41 p.m.

again i say it is up to all of us to get the message out. i have begun contacting the elementary school pta's asking if they will assist by signing the RECALL -

we can do it, RECALL THEM, send them back home because they surely do not deserve to be running our District.


anniej April 30, 2012 @ 8:49 p.m.

he was brought in by mccann after mccann allegedly kept vital information regarding the fact that 'the gandara' could be fired for cause. now why would mccann choose to fail to share information with his fellow board members? and why would the other board member (with exception of board member lopez) not demand answers to this allegation from mccann?

how do you spell conspiracy?

just my opinon


PeachyLindell April 29, 2012 @ 2:35 p.m.

So, are they going to shut down the whole damn district? That's essentially what they're going for, and it can be seen especially in the rehiring of Brand. That move engendered even more dismay in those familiar with his record. You would think that somebody in the administration (or the board of trustees, heaven forbid) would have the guts and the intelligence to stand up to this, but it seems not. Once again, it's up to the people who care about and do the work of educating our children, i.e. the teachers. The community at large, and especially the parents of those children, need to know more about the corruption in Sweetwater that goes way beyond the construction scandals.


eastlaker April 30, 2012 @ 11:52 a.m.

By all accounts, there is one member of the board of Trustees who has been consistent in her challenges to Brand and his predecessor, Gandara, and that is Bertha Lopez. The others have been lap dogs of developers and superindendents.

Yes, it is a crying shame. The more the public learns about the corruption, the more likely it is that these self-serving ignoramuses will be removed from these--or the likelihood of any--positions of power and authority. If you have something to add to the public knowledge, by all means, add it.


anniej April 30, 2012 @ 8:51 p.m.

i am curious PeachyLindell, do teachers, can teachers speak to parents about the issues?

why is it that more teachers fail to come to the board meetings on a regular basis?


savesweetwater April 30, 2012 @ 4:52 p.m.

Just more evidence to demonstrate that everyone needs to SIGN THE RECALL PETITIONS!! Sweetwater needs change - ethical board members would be a great start.


anniej April 30, 2012 @ 8:33 p.m.

it amazes me how many taxpayers in the south bay are uninformed. when you speak of it they look at you like you are referring to something going on in a land far away.

much is wrong with this district, there is no debating that issue. the upcoming trials, the upcoming elections should do much to cleanse us of the alleged corruption.

let there be no doubt about it, the guilty plea last week will do much to bring it all into perspective. did you all notice the comment made by Mr. Flores regarding 'donations'? and trust me he was not referring to the donation baskets passed around at Sunday services. no, he was speaking of the campaign donations given to board members - interesting isn't it, mccann and cartmill appear to have been under the radar until now - my opinion is much will come to light about the campaign donations given to these two individuals - as well as ricasa. i have said it more than one time, these contractors and other firms did not simply wake up one day and decide out of the clear blue to donate the kind of money they did. i have taken the time to go to the registrar of voters and researched the dollar amounts.

RECALL - mccann, cartmill and ricasa. vote quinones OUT. then the new board will open the door and say good bye to brand - the legacy that will be left by this pied piper will be one of disappoint, broken promises, good old boys, and money making schemes.

i do not understand why any of the hearings should have had to take place. ah, hello, we have a data base that would make available to the district the same info the unions have. the student teacher ratio, the master schedules - Mr. Anguiano has been warning the district of this for months - have they taken heed, NO.

those in questions continue to use their position for their own political, professional or personal gain - that in itself boils down to a crime in my opinion.

i for one want them gone, gone ASAP.

all of those posting need to contact 10 people, and ask those to contact 10, and so on and so on. we need to show up, pick up those RECALL forms, speak up to the masses - show them in print what is going on, and then return with the number of signatures that we need. it is going to take some work but we can do it.


joepublic April 30, 2012 @ 9:52 p.m.

These hearings are a waste of taxpayers' money. There is plenty of fat in this district's administration as well as a lot of money wasted on consultants, technological whims, and charter school adventures.


eastlaker May 1, 2012 @ 8:43 a.m.

The hearings are mandated once pink slips have been handed out--at least according to what I understand. Of course, if the district had been run along more sensible lines, all these pink slips might not have to be given out. And there we see several more problems: are pink slips given out as 'punishment' to teachers who challenge the district administration in some way? Are the pink slips a form of intimidation then? There is some indication that might be the case. Just another way for the corrupt to try and hold the reins of power...so they can feel like big shots as they give away tax dollars to the things you mention, and even more ridiculous schemes. They have lost contact with the reality of their consituency, and either think we don't care, are too stupid to figure it out or will be afraid of standing up to them. They are wrong. They couldn't be more wrong.


anniej May 1, 2012 @ 12:03 p.m.

Eastlaker: while i agree with 99.9% of what you say i do believe there is a large contingency of educators who are afraid of standing up to them..... many have come to me and told me "once i am tenured". sad, very sad that in this country people are afraid to speak their opinions.

i have done the research on the astronomical amounts of monies our district has spent since 07 - UN freakin BELIEVABLE!!!! seems many many consultants were hired to teach the teachers, now that makes sense doesn't it? NOT!! truth be told the majority of sweetwater educators could 'consultant' rings around the bozos that the district hires.

what is needed though are speakers that do their homework, come to the board meetings prepared, after doing the much needed analysis of the agenda items. while 'the antagonists' do a pretty bang up job, educated educators are painfully absent from the majority of the meetings. Mr. Anguiano and the few others that speak on behalf of those they represent are always prepared and share much needed information - they additionally raise valid points of objections on the direction that the board is taking - but where are those who are tenured? where are those who are the best amongst the best in their profession? just asking............

all of those who find themselves uninformed and uninterested - who choose to let the few do the work of the many could easily be described, by persons such as myself, as being part of the problem.

i remember the 60's and 70's - i remember when the masses stood up for what they believed in - bi***ing about it is not going to fix a darn thing. it is going to take a little more time - a little more work to take our district back, i.e.

the trials RECALL talking about it in grocery lines, in bank lines, at the upcoming graduations, at high school sporting events attending board meetings, EVEN IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO SPEAK

we have the power, we have the numbers - and now we are putting them to work - ALL IN AN EFFORT TO SUPPORT OUR CHILDREN AND WE, THE TAXPAYERS.


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