Southwestern College professor Janet Mazzarella addresses the board, March 14, 2012
  • Southwestern College professor Janet Mazzarella addresses the board, March 14, 2012
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Southwestern College had a packed board agenda and packed house on March 14. The meeting, which lasted beyond midnight, suggested that all is not well in Camelot.

The most contentious item on the agenda was a pay increase for administrators. The district’s proposal was to add steps on the pay scale for vice presidents. Some current vice presidents are interim, so the district suggested the increase to attract a better pool of candidates. Prospective administrators would negotiate their level of pay, depending on experience and education.

The “Rationale for Improving VP Compensation” attached to the agenda argued that compensation for vice presidents in other districts is significantly higher and that “increasing the salary is likely to result in an improved rate of retention.”

Speakers implored the board not to take action at a time when the district is contemplating asking instructors and other employees to make up for a budget deficit with cuts to their salaries or benefits.

The student boardmember, Claudia Duran, said if she were to ask her constituents, they wouldn’t want to increase the salaries; they would want their summer classes restored.

The motion passed 3-2, with trustees Nader and Peraza voting in opposition. Peraza said he could not vote for the motion when the country was in such a severe depression.

Late in the evening, the board also passed a motion to limit campaign contributions to $1000. The vote was 4-1. Trustee Jean Roesch, who will be up for election in November, voted against the motion.

The board also passed, among other consent items, a motion to hire Lillian Leopold as chief public information and government officer. Her salary will be $10,393 a month. Leopold has served as director of grants and communication at Sweetwater Union High School District since 1999.

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SurfPuppy619 March 16, 2012 @ 11:24 p.m.

The most contentious item on the agenda was a pay increase for administrators. ==

Typical gov employer-giving pay raises when the economy has been in the toilet for 5 years and the private sector has been taking pay cuts. / /

The district’s proposal was to add steps on the pay scale for vice presidents. Some current vice presidents are interim, so the district suggested the increase to attract a better pool of candidates. == Better pool??? You could cut the pay by 50% and get a better employer pool. I am so tired of hearing this garbage from gov employers it makes me sick.


BettyCrock March 17, 2012 @ 2:35 p.m.

A raise for the top admin, mind! The rank and file haven't had so much as COLA in over seven years, and the admin wants them to take a 4% pay cut!


SurfPuppy619 March 17, 2012 @ 3:06 p.m.

This shows terrible leadership- and how far out of touch these public administrators are.


SurfPuppy619 March 16, 2012 @ 11:25 p.m.

Trustee Jean Roesch, who will be up for election in November, voted against the motion. == Dr Roesch was my boss at Sweetwater UHSD when I worked there-loved her. One of the best I have ever worked with.


BettyCrock March 17, 2012 @ 2:38 p.m.

You can keep her! She was one of Chopra's biggest lapdogs. She and Valladolid sit on the board as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths after presiding over all of the corruption and mismanagement Chopra and his cronies could foster. She's gotta go, and Valladolid needs to be following right behind her.


SurfPuppy619 March 17, 2012 @ 3:04 p.m.

When I worked with her at SUHSD she was running Independent Studies and did a wonderful job there-I am making no comment on her current record, only my opinion of her when she was my boss back then, and let me tell you, there was so much incompetence at SUHSD and public education in general that it was refreshing to have someone who did a good job..


joepublic March 17, 2012 @ 8:52 a.m.

Raising VP's salaries " likely to result in improved rate of retention". Really! It seems to me that the problem with retaining administrators at this college has more to do with its history of corruption than its pay scale. Also, it's hard to believe they hired Lillian Leopold, the spin master who faithfully served the infamous superintendent Jesus Gandara in Sweetwater!


eastlaker March 19, 2012 @ 2:56 p.m.

You said it, joepublic and BettyCrock! And here I thought Southwestern was improving...goes to show you that the ties that bind are very tight in Sweetwater.


anniej March 17, 2012 @ 11:34 a.m.

while the Southwestern board did vote to 'regulate' campaign contributions i believe one more step is imperative. that would be the regulation that 'if' contributions are accepted, that the board member MUST recuse themselves from voting on any agenda item that is associated with the contributor.

i too am a little sick and tired of the pay scales that these and other folks associated with education continue to give themselves. how many of you are parents of college aged students? are we acknowledging the steep increases? NOT HARDLY..................................... yet we sit back and fail to speak out when raises are given. why do employees deserve outrageously high salaries?

i.e. ms. lillian leopold (current sweetwater employee) has allegedly accepted a new position at Southwestern, - her pay $10,000.00 a month. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????????????????????? what on earth is Southwestern OR ANY educational district doing offering this type of compensation for such a position.


not to mention the fact that ms. leopold was one of the insiders associated with the alleged corruption at sweetwater union high school district - while my words should not be taken to insinuate that she herself was corrupt - the question needs to be asked -


so why is she being hired by Southwestern? more of the same but housed at a different location.

taxpayers, WAKE UP, SPEAK UP - demand integrity and honesty from all in leadership positions within our school districts.

the President of Southwestern MUST remain cognizant that we, the public, are monitoring what is going on at Southwestern as aggressively as we are monitoring sweetwater. we praise the Presidents' efforts thus far, however will expect sound leadership in all venues, including compensation.


jmazz March 17, 2012 @ 1:58 p.m.

SurfPuppy619, Jean Roesch did not vote against the motion to change the top VP salary from $150K/yr to $175K/yr. The vote was 3-2 and the two nay votes came from Nadar and Perraza. Jean's comment was that if the President feels that this is what she needs, then that is what I support. Jean said the same thing during the Chopra years, which almost caused the downfall of our college...accreditation problems, corruption in Prop R, and cutting student classes while building the college reserves from $6 million to $13.5 million.


capitalistmenace March 17, 2012 @ 4:14 p.m.

I played Jean Roesch in a county-wide tic tac toe contest. Beat her five games in a row.


DavidD March 17, 2012 @ 4:20 p.m.

It is unconscionable that the district would think it reasonable to spend more money on administration when state and local government budgets are in such dire peril. Seems like business as usual for a district that's already under the microscope due to allegations of corruption and possibly fraudulent financial mismanagement. This following years of criticism of a past administration that nearly ran the college into the ground, ie lost college accreditation, yet still received regular pay raises and unnecessary perks.

How is it that the district finds it justifiable to decide pay cuts for those actually teaching classes, yet administrators need pay raises? The rationale is that higher pay will draw better qualified candidates. So by trying to cut the salaries of those who directly educate our students, is the college saying that investment in luring and retaining quality teachers is not as big a priority?

Is it simply that they have given up the idea that they can't find ethical or effective vice-presidents and hope that throwing money at them will somehow make them less likely run amok?

Just as the college seems to be digging itself out of a public relations nightmare, they float an idea that puts them right back where they started.

Here's an idea, go ahead and pay VP's more, but do so by eliminating the positions that aren't needed. Or better yet, here's a novel notion: if you have enough funds to be considering pay raises, try investing it directly back to the education of students. You know, silly things like more classes or summer classes seem to serve students better than a raise for already generously compensated administrators.


anniej March 17, 2012 @ 5:42 p.m.

DavidD: NOONE should be getting a raise until and unless the tuition rates are lowered.

i think this country needs a major dose of reality - we talk about the future leaders of tomorrow - yet do NOTHING to assist them in becoming great leaders. we speak of education being the key to success and then put a major price tag on the education that it will take to become successful.


Woodchuck March 17, 2012 @ 6:44 p.m.

The post by DavidD describes the problem quite clearly. I would refer readers to a Washington Monthly magazine article of Sept./Oct 2011 titled "Administrators Ate My Tuition" by Benjamin Ginsburg. He details the explosion of administrators along with their support staff while budgets for faculty are stagnant and tuition increases are an annual event. The hire of a PR professional at over $10,000 a month and raises for other officials tell me that Southwestern's reputation and image are top priorities while education takes a back seat. The only words to describe these actions are despicable and shameful.


eyesopen March 17, 2012 @ 7:21 p.m.

It seems like Southwestern College just can't get it right. After years of tyranny and corruption under Chopra, it seems like it's starting all over again. Administration being paid even higher for incompetence, picking up Sweetwater leftovers and the folks who actually work on campus, the teachers, once again, are being overlooked and asked to take a proposed 4 % pay cut. What insanity! With the change in leadership, there were high hopes, but it appears they went out the door Wednesday night.

Well it looks like the Southwestern College School of Poor Leadership is open once again. This time they'll even get paid more. Thank you Nadar and Peraza for voting no on the VP pay increase. Peraza you have my vote in November.

One more thing...can someone recommend a world cruise Jean can go on until the end of November? Even better, a maze with lots of pretty flowers.


joepublic March 17, 2012 @ 8:03 p.m.

Woodchuck: I couldn't agree with you more. To pay a PR person that much at the same time you're cutting at the classroom level is grossly wrong. Administration is the furthest removed from classroom instruction, but they get the raises. Doesn't make sense.


anniej March 19, 2012 @ 11:19 a.m.

not sure if the President of Southwestern reads The Reader - but I would recommend that all that see a problem with the amount of monies being paid for the PR position phone said person and voice your concern and outrage.

i am picking up the phone now.


cvres March 18, 2012 @ 10:09 a.m.

What kind of a message does it send to the community and the campus to hire Sweetwater's media director? I believe Southwestern's old media director left a bad taste in many people's mouths.


eastlaker March 19, 2012 @ 3:02 p.m.

Yes, she did. Being in possession of a "tin ear" is about the nicest thing that could be said about her.

I believe the message it sends is that the people who are 'in cahoots', stay 'in cahoots'! (Apologies to the Las Vegas ad campaign).


MomofTwo March 18, 2012 @ 11:08 a.m. why is the district hiring someone at $10,000 + a month? That is more than the faculty earn....and why did they not search within the talent pool of the current staff? There are many talented people within the Southwestern College community who understand the culture and how the system works. These are the same people who have dedicated their lives to help clean up the corruption and backroom politics on campus.

We need to start hiring from within. We don't need another lap dog like the last community relations person.....truth bender.

Thank you to Tim Nader and Peraza who had a conscience, ethics and morals to thwart the political pressure and say "NO!" to more pay increases. We can hire from the amazing talent pool from within and for less money. The people who have proven their dedication, honesty, and commitment need to be promoted into leadership.


anniej March 19, 2012 @ 11:24 a.m.

it is one thing for all of us to post here and share our ideas and concerns over issues.

i do however believe it takes more - i look to those who took on 'the gandara', bonny garcia, corruptor at law (sweetwaters legal counsel), nancy stewart (head of sweetwater's food services, and the principle and ap at castle park - they showed up, stood up, and spoke up - AND IT BROUGHT ABOUT CHANGE.

we, the TAXPAYERS, whose hard earned dollars fuel these engines should take more ownership on how our monies are spent. surely this article points out that currently there is room for improvement, MUCH ROOM.


Founder March 19, 2012 @ 5:55 p.m.

Right On! Show Up, Speak Up, Demand Better, Be part of the CHANGE for the Students...


Founder March 19, 2012 @ 5:52 p.m.

Come on Folks... Get a grip on current reality!

Granting ANY raises for Admin.'s is the worst thing possible, it says that the Admin's. are far more important than Faculty and Staff...

Tell these Admin's types suck it up or go look for another Gravy Train Job...

The students should be staging set-in and demanding that the Faculity and Staff join them...


joepublic March 19, 2012 @ 6:22 p.m.

How many vice presidents does it take to run a community college?


anniej March 19, 2012 @ 10:09 p.m.

all districts continue to tell their educators and students that they must prepare to do more with less (money) - yet they, those in control, at the district office fail to lead by example!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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