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Introducing Capistrano Unified School District Candidate Jim Reardon

Posted by Greg Woodard on November 5, 2012

I thought I would take a brief break from South County City Council candidates and focus on Capistrano Unified School District, which has recently had multiple recall elections, extremely rancorous elections, and pitted battles between conservative and unions.  I reached out to Jim Reardon, Steve Lang, and Bill Perkins, all of whom have been endorsed by the Orange County Republican Party.  Unfortunately, I only have heard back from Jim as of today.  While I would like to have a post with all three, in fairness to Jim, I wanted to at least put his information out for public consumption before tomorrow’s election.

Jim Reardon

Jim is running because he has had a decades-long commitment to education.  He is a product of public schools and he is not happy with the direction of the current Board and its all cuts approach without any concessions from the union.  Jim said that he is benefitting from a newly re-drawn district that has no incumbent, making his election competitive.

Jim believes that the primary problems facing the district are: (1) a reduced school year (furlough days will reduce the year by 3 weeks); (2) program cuts in both the school schedule, and in the services provided; and (3) the district’s massive accumulated debt and deficit.

Jim said that all of these problems stem from the contract the district has with the union.  He noted that 92% of the district’s current expenditures are for employees, leaving little remaining for the students.  The district can re-open the contract with the union this fiscal year, and Jim sees a great opportunity to make significant changes.  Jim wants to re-open the negotiations as early as possible and work in a calm manner with the teacher’s union to reach a resolution.  For example, he wants to get the district back to a full 180 days of education within 1-3 years.  Eliminating the furlough days helps both the teachers (more money as those days are currently unpaid) and students (more learning opportunities).

Jim pointed out some of the problems with the existing teacher’s contract that are magnifying the district’s fiscal problems.  For example, the current contract gives teachers 5 hours of pay for work that they do not even have to show up for.  He wants to combine cuts, suspension of tenure-based pay increases, and modify work rules as part of any new contract with the teachers.

Jim also wants to improve the working relationship between the district and the union.  He said the Board needs to publicly develop goals for negotiations in will undertake with the union.  To emphasize public goals and transparency, he will push for Board sessions to be televised on Cox, or streamed on the internet.  Jim also wants to start early (in the winter) and engage teachers, parents, and any other interested parties in setting the goals, and then engage in negotiations.  Jim said that the current Board does it backwards – they engage in secret negotiations with the union, then try to publicly set goals, even though they already have completed the negotiations.

Jim said that teachers are neither over nor under compensated – they are paid what the Board agrees to pay them, and the Board cannot pay them more money than the district has.  He believes that the current overall package offered to teachers is unsustainable and concessions have to be made, possibly from both sides.  Jim wants to combine three factors (1) working conditions (hours, responsibilities, instructing time requirements, class size, etc.); (2) the rate of pay; and (3) how much money the Board has in any negotiations, where in the past Jim says these factors were disconnected from any union negotiations.  He noted that the district’s enrollment is declining but labor costs are escalating resulting in kids in larger classes, for fewer days, with less instruction while the median rate of teacher pay has gone up due to adjustments for seniority (when teachers are laid off, the newer teachers who are the lowest cost to the district, must be laid off first per union contract requirements).

Jim is endorsed by, among others, the Orange County Republican Party, the Lincoln Club, the Atlas PAC, the Family Action PAC, and Orange County School District member Robert Hammond.

You can find out more about Jim at www.votereardon.com.

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