Written by David Greenwald Wednesday, 11 May 2011 05:37
Bill Kuhlman notes that Matt Best has been appointed to take over Kevin French's responsibilities as HR director.
The author writes, "What is going on here? We just barely approved Measure A to assess most homes in Davis an additional $200 to support the school district. Aren’t our principals, teachers and school staffs expected to do more with less? This should apply to the district staff also."
He continues, "How many of the new $200 assessments will it take to pay for Best’s new compensation package and the compensation package for the additional administrator likely to be hired to fulfill the rest of French’s former responsibilities? This money can be better used in the classrooms."
Let us start at the beginning here. Is it Mr. Kuhlman's position that apparently a school district with over 1000 employees should not have an HR director? To borrow his phrase, "you can't be serious, can you?"
But he also misses at least two other points. To remove a senior level official and to replace with a younger person likely means the district will actually save money on the transaction.
And actually, he is not factually correct. According to Jeff Hudson's article in the Enterprise, "Best will take over French’s duties in the human resources department; an announcement is expected in a few weeks regarding who will provide administrative oversight for junior high and high school programs."
So, the district will actually save money both on Mr. Best's new contract and his replacement. The district does lose a talented and well-respected administrator in Kevin French and Mr. Best himself is well-respected and will have his own big shoes to fill, but from a financial standpoint the district will come out ahead in this move, something that Mr. Kuhlman in his venom does not seem to grasp.
But there are more problems with Mr. Kuhlman's position, as he asks how many $200 assessments will it take to pay for Best's new compensation. The problem is that the $200 assessments of the parcel tax are spent for specific purposes laid out in the parcel tax itself. So the answer is none.
And Mr. Best's new compensation package will simply replace Mr. French's.
Money should be used in the classroom to the greatest extent possible, but you still need to manage the school district and Mr. Kuhlman doesn't bother to explain how the district, with as many employees as it has, can function without a position like HR Director.
Mr. Kuhlman, "There are 20 positions on the leadership team with the word superintendent, director, manager or coordinator in their titles. There must be enough senior leadership in the district to realign French’s former responsibilities."
I am not sure that number is accurate. It would be difficult to assess without knowing to whom it is that he is referring. For instance, if you have a custodial grounds manager, I am not certain that an HR Director's duties could be filled there.
Mr. Kuhlman apparently does not understand that the district actually made these kinds of moves back in 2008. They eliminated the Associate Superintendent for Education. They left the Associate Superintendent for Business, Mr. Colby, but eliminated the finance positions under him. That means that assistant superintendents on the education side are performing the duties of the Associate Superintendent, while Mr. Colby is performing the duties of at least three individuals.
Moreover, Mr. Kuhlman makes it sound like HR duties are something that could be spread around.
He continues further, demonstrating his ignorance of school financing, "Someone at the district probably will say, “Funds for administrator compensation are different than funds for classroom support.”"
No, both are funded from the general fund. However, parcel tax money cannot be spent on administrators.
"Funds from the taxpayers are funds from the taxpayers."
That is not true either. There are different sources for those taxpayers funds and the different sources must, according to law, be spent differently.
"We expect that our funds will be stretched as far as possible — not to support two new administrators."
As I mentioned, he got that part wrong. It appears that there will not be any new administrative positions. Mr. Best replaces Mr. French. And someone else must replace Mr. Best. The replacements will cost less than their successors and the district will save money.
But we should not let facts get in the way of a good rant. After all it's easier to suggest without much knowledge of the situation, "The school board should rescind Best’s appointment and direct Superintendent Winfred Roberson’s team to do better. If it is necessary to have someone perform French’s former responsibilities, then the district should find a way to do it without adding staff or payroll."
Again, what evidence does Mr. Kuhlman have that the district will add staff or payroll? Answer: none.
---David M. Greenwald reporting
No, both are funded from the general fund. However, parcel tax money cannot be spent on administrators.
However, isn't it true that parcel tax money spent on specific things frees up money that would have been spend on those specific things for other general fund costs, like administrators or whatever?
The move a senior level official and the replacement with a younger person likely means the district will actually save money on the transaction.
According to the May 8 Davis Enterprise article, "Da Vinci Charter School Principal Matt Best is moving to the district office, where he will serve as the ASSISTANT superintendent for human resources... The district office position opened up a few months ago, when Deputy Superintendent Kevin French, whose portfolio of duties included the human resources office as well as oversight of junior high and high school programs, took a job with the Acalanes Union High School District in Contra Costa County. Best will take over French's duties in the human resources department; AN ANNOUNCEMENT IS EXPECTED IN A FEW WEEKS REGARDING WHO WILL PROVIDE ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT FOR JUNIOR HIGH AND HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAMS."
That sounds to me like two people are going to be taking over for Kevin French. In other words, an extra position has been created to oversee junior high and high school programs in the human resources department...
Well, if I remember correctly the district hired a superintendent who had never been in a district office and had only even been a principal for one year. The justification for that was he could learn about the numerous and varied aspects of the job while being supported by the veteran staff members in Budget, C&I and HR. These individuals were actually given additional compensation to account for the additional load. (Something that teachers were not given despite a measurable 20-30% workload increase.)
As much as I like Matt he has zero experience in the job. So he has a learning curve, Winfred has a learning curve and it’s unclear as to how they will be supported in this crucial position.
I’m curious as to how they fill in the rest of Kevin’s position. Despite what Mr. Greenwald states there will be no net savings by hiring two youngsters to replace one veteran. I bet dollars to donuts that the new guy and Matt will cost more than Kevin did even with his enhanced compensation. Another poorly thought out decision from this Board. But, they've got all of that Measure A money to spend still. As Mr Musser pointed out it is fairly simple to 'free up' general fund money to pay for more administrators by using the windfall from Measure A.
"District Opponents Strain to Continue Attack on District's Finance....District opponents in the wake of the Measure A election seem to be on a heightened state of alert...."Are you sure you're not making more of a single letter of 322 words than it deserves? Your 888-word challenge to Mr. Kuhlman's concern makes it appear that you're the one on "a heightened state of alert."
Without judging the merit of the district's plans, I wonder how you could be surprised (and so incensed that you label him ignorant and venomous) that a person would write about hiring someone for a position with substantially less responsibility than his predecessor--rather than adding duties or keeping the same ones--when other organizations are taking the opposite route of fewer employees and consolidated duties?
Add to that his concern that the school board, with its usual tin ear for timing, made the decision within a day or two of the Measure A results. You missed his point that this announcement could have made a difference if not held off until after election day.
"It is Mr. Kuhlman's position that apparently a school district with over 1000 employees should not have an HR director?...Moreover, Mr. Kuhlman makes it sound like HR duties are something that could be spread around....if you have a custodial grounds manager, I am not certain that an HR Director's duties could be filled there."Actually, I think it's obvious he made none of the arguments for which you seem to be giving him credit.
Kuhlman: "Someone at the district probably will say, 'Funds for administrator compensation are different than funds for classroom support." Funds from the taxpayers are funds from the taxpayers."I think you misread this point as well. It's interesting he anticipated that in his first sentence here, but you again decided to attack his ignorance. He seems pretty aware of the semi-fungibility issue; otherwise, he wouldn't have made the initial comment.
I know you're knowledgable about how more money coming to a restricted pocket frees up cash for any purpose allowed in the second pocket. Given that this a generally accepted management practice, I'm surprised you'd ignore it in order to be critical of his "tax money is tax money" point.
"Again, what evidence does Mr. Kuhlman have that the district will add staff or payroll? Answer: none."I guess DJUSD's announcement regarding another announcement could be interpreted in more than one way. What evidence do you have that the district will not another employee down the district chain of command somewhere because of the reduction in duties in Mr. Best's position?
"But we should not let facts get in the way of a good rant."True, but it makes one wonder: How dependable are DMG's assertions here? Did you call Mr. Kuhlman to have his explain the parts of his letter that you didn't understand? What DJUSD leader(s) did you contact before you wrote this good rant?
Since you still maintain that Dunning was obligatged to call the district "to get their side"--you're still assuming that he did not--of a story that wouldn't have been one whit more positive with additional information, can I assume that you followed your professed journalistic ethics in reporting your story? Can I assume that you contacted Mr. Kuhlman as well as responsible DJUSD officials?
Did your sources verify your conclusions? It does seem that this report incorporates more than the usual number of assumptions and unconfirmed conclusions.
Did they agree that reducing the HR director responsibilities will result in lower costs and no additional personnel, that the parcel task won't provide relief beyond its direct, mandated benefits, that there are not 20 leadership positions in the district or that Mr. Kuhlman was incorrect in the other points he made? Did your interview with Mr. Kuhlman clarify any of the questions you had about his comments?
"Nevertheless, it is dismaying to see the amount of mud and accusations thrown in this election...."I agree with you 100 per cent, as they say.
Categorizing those concerned about certain DJUSD's actions as venomous, ignorant, from the "more conservative parts of town," lacking knowledge about what school financing is all about, etc., is something that shouldn't have happened. And, now that the election is over, all residents should avoid charges that extend and exacerbate the 2/3rd-1/3rd divide.
For some reason, you've taken these Dunning stories way too seriously for way too long--and responded in way too personal a manner. It's not necessary to jump on every person who writes a letter to the editor about the district now. It's time to move on.
DMG: "That is correct but what you are missing is that that was Best's job. So Best replaces French and now the district has to hire someone to replace Best."
that depends on what the district ultimately decides to do. if the district means "Administrative oversight for Junior/high school programs" to be interpreted as normal responsibilities of the incoming davinci high school principal or someone else with already established other responsibilities, then yes. but if it results in an entirely new position with seperate responsibilities from the principal, then no. but its possible I am missing something here.
It doesn't depend on anything, they are not adding a position, period.
That is not how the article reads...
You guys seem to forget that even with Measure A we are still in about a three million dollar hole depending on what happens at the state level. The district is not adding employees, it is at most filling key positions.
If the school district is not adding a position, then why did the school district not state that directly to Jeff Hudson? Instead, the paragraph indicating that a second position is going to be added was put at the very end of the article in the last paragraph, as if to cover that fact over with a lot of verbiage.
If the school district truly is not creating a new position, then I would suggest they clear the matter up by printing something in the Davis Enterprise to clarify. Because from where I sit, it looks exactly like two positions are going to be created - I don't see how you could read it any other way.
Secondly, you did not address my first point, which is that even thought the parcel tax is slated to be spent on specific things, that means nothing. It just frees up that funding to be spent on other things - like a new administrator.
To dmg: The letter from Kuhlman only appeared in tonight's Enterprise (Thursday,May 12). Yet you write about Kuhlman's letter on Wednesday, May 11.
1) How did you gain access to Kuhlman's letter prior to its publication?
2) Your article appears to be preemptive damage control on behalf of the school district.
3) Why would the school district feel the need to work so hard at preemptive damage control if they have nothing to hide?
4) In reading Kuhlman's letter, he came to the exact same conclusion I did, based on the actual words of Jeff Hudson's Davis Enterprise article about the transfer of Best to an administrative position. Best will take over SOME of French's duties, but it appears another person will take over French's other duties, making it appear that a) another person will have to be hired, or b) Best is not fully capable of filling all of French's duties so someone else will have to fill in, or c) both.
It should be no surprise that French left having been passed over for Super, a job for which he was well qualified.
Kuhlman misses the important role the head of HR plays in a school district. It is my experience that Asst. Superintendents of Human Resources are the ones who do the dirty work of laying people off and saying no in negotiations. Having a well compensated HR person can save a district lots of money.
All this post-mordem whining really is too provincial. While Davis has rescinded 59 pink slips through the merciful beneficence of the voters and taxpayers Woodland has had no such support. As a result many really talented dedicated people will be losing their jobs there unless something changes. While some go on bickering you need to look no farther than the nearest town to see the impact measure is having on Davis schools.
Kuhlman misses the important role the head of HR plays in a school district.
No, Kuhlman got it exactly right. Why put Best in a position that Best cannot handle? The article by Jeff Hudson makes it crystal clear that Best will only take over some of French's duties, and someone else will have to take over French's remaining duties.
David, do you not have time to respond to questions on this story?
I'm hoping dgm is out getting clarification to your questions... or advising the school district to publish a letter of clarification in the Davis Enterprise...
Musser: Question DMG: how come you were able to respond to an editorial on 5/11, but that editorial was not printed until today, which is 5/12?
Because if you look at the time stamp on the letter to the editor, it was posted online on Tuesday, May 10:
The answer to Musser's question is that it was online before it was published in the paper. Duh. And I'm sorry to say duh, but it was an obvious answer that you guys could have easily figured out.
We don't read the Enterprise online. And it was not obvious to us, and the reason we asked. So why the pejorative "duh"?
wdf1, I sure agree. I remember awhile back it was noted that linking to the Enterprise was problematic because of their crazy "pay to read online" practice. Now that it's no longer an issue with our local paper, it would good to revisit the linking practices here.
I'd hope it'll become routine that links are provided to everything which David refers to in each story. It would be great to always have the option to easily go to David's original sources, whether other publications' articles, judges' decisions, organizations' studies, David's past articles, etc. (It certainly would the need for any more such "duhs" and would result in better informed responses.)