Well, all of the cards have played out and Lakeside Union School District Superintendent Dr. David Lorden resigned last week. The District has been able to keep this under the radar for the most part, but in my discussions with several teachers and staff, there were many complaints about his authoritative nature and his excessive spending on legal council, as well as his salary, which I was told went up 37 percent during his tenure as superintendent.
Well, all of the cards have played out and Lakeside Union School District Superintendent Dr. David Lorden resigned last week. The District has been able to keep this under the radar for the most part, but in my discussions with several teachers and staff, there were many complaints about his authoritative nature and his excessive spending on legal council, as well as his salary, which I was told went up 37 percent during his tenure as superintendent. I have to place this under the category of hearsay at this time, as I do not have documentation yet to support it as hard evidence. But his resignation comes after teachers, staff and parents called him out on his latest moves to squelch a $2 million budget deficit (fact).
There is a time and place for authoritative moves, but in a school or college district, this way of thinking may not go over well. When authority is misused, it usually ends with negative outcomes. As they go through the process of appointing an interim superintendent and the hiring of a new superintendent I think it is important that the District understand the power of collective bargaining.
As I have seen many times before when covering educational districts, if collective bargaining is not incorporated more chaos and distrust grows between the board, administrators, teachers and classified staff. On the other hand, when collective bargaining is practiced, I have witnessed even the largest problems faced head on. Budgets, contracts and the overall well being of an entire district can be healthy, vibrant and formidable.
It astounds me when I see those that do not believe in the power of collective bargaining in school districts. School principals, teachers and staff are the backbone of leadership within the schools every day operations, the input they provide is the most powerful asset that the district has. When these groups are included in the process it provides the district with the most potential in problem solving, it makes sense to include them in the process.
LSUSD is full of competent and forward thinking leaders that can help solve district problems. This is evident in their leadership at their own schools as they promote and engage in some of the best programs tailored to their students every year, showing growth and an understanding of the children they serve. Many of these programs are well known outside of the LSUSD as many are already used as models with other districts seeing the positive results that these programs have done for the children in Lakeside.
However, the budget deficit, and a new superintendent for the district present new problems. The Board will have to regain the trust that has been lost regarding the authority figure they choose to put in place over the district. The current leaders in the schools have spent an excessive amount of time reacting to changes and processing proposals rather than putting effort into solving the problems they are facing. Bringing all constituents into the process would avoid this and hopefully this message has come across loud and clear.
I agree that the easiest way to decrease a budget is to skim the cream off the top of the milk, but that does not mean pink slips for the administrators that actually run the District’s schools and its programs. In most cases it is taking away from the highest in the chain, reducing costs from the very top and working down.
This is especially true when the majority of the budget should go to employing teachers and staff. I have seen great advancements in reducing the costs of the highest paid salaries; including the superintendent, vice superintendents, legal council fees and consultant fees, all of which can add a tremendous strain to any school budget. In most cases, current administration, teachers and staff can solve many of the issues that outside hires help with, without the excessive fees.
Go back to the drawing board, but this time use what you already have and I am sure that with the right amount of collective bargaining LSUSD can close the looming deficit at hand and the District can continue to provide the Lakeside community with ongoing premier education.