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Letters to the Editor, April 17 - 19

SVUSD, what in the world are you thinking?

EDITOR: Hi, Sonoma Valley Unified School District Trustees. I read the contract the Sonoma Valley Unified School District board plans to offer Socorro Shiels. It has settled in my mind for a couple of days, and I can no longer contain myself.

Seriously. What in the world are you thinking?

37-month contract

$225,000 annual salary

$400 monthly auto allowance

Full medical benefits

$10,000 for her to finish her PhD

COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment)

Six month buyout if we need her to leave before her 37 months are up.

Her salary offer is higher than Steve Herrington, the Superintendent of Sonoma County Schools. As a matter of fact, this offer is higher than the salary of any County Superintendent in our county. Her successor at Santa Rosa City School District doesn’t make that much with five high schools and a total of about 27 schools to run. A United States senator makes $50,000 less than this.

Why not offer her a one or two year contract to see how she is doing, then a raise if she has been true to her word and turns out to be great for us?

Ms. Shiels has about three-years experience as a Superintendent. I could see offering her what previous Superintendent Louann (Carlomagno) earned in her fourth year as Superintendent, or heck, even what she earned in her eighth year, but this offer is 20 percent higher than that! This offer is MUCH higher than what Ms. Shiels is making now.

Louann didn’t get a monthly auto allowance, just mileage reimbursement like the rest of us, as per Louann’s last contract.

Full medical benefits – yeah, OK.

$10,000 so she can finish her PhD? Come on!

COLA? No one else in the district got a “cost of living adjustment”!

Six month salary as a buy out if she’s messing up so badly we have to ask her to leave?

I do not begrudge her for trying to negotiate a fine package for herself. Our trustees, however, are responsible for negotiating a fiscally responsible contract.

We are a district teetering on the brink of insolvency.

In order to balance our budget we are planning to:

Let go many teacher positions

Let go of vice principal(s)

Let go of one District Office Administrator (we hope)

Increase class sizes to the maximum allowed

Reduce our spending by a lot

Offer teachers a one-time bonus in lieu of a salary increase

Offer no COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment)

How does this contract make sense to any of you? It doesn’t make sense to me.

Whoever negotiated this contract seems to have amnesia and delusions of grandeur about who we are and what we can afford as a district.

There is no way I can quietly go along with spending our education dollars this way. I’m shocked and dismayed.

I know you care about kids and teachers or you wouldn’t be doing this difficult job. We depend on you to find us a good Superintendent and to create a contract that reflects our financial reality.

Caryn Prince

SVUSD Teacher

No use for a name change

EDITOR: Within the next days, members of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art will be receiving a letter announcing a special meeting to consider changing the museum’s name. This was on the agenda for its annual meeting but was withdrawn due to objections from members who had been kept uninformed about this plan until it was included in the annual meeting notice.

It is important for museum members to read this letter and, if unable to attend the special meeting on April 30, to vote on the name change with the proxy form enclosed therein. It is important for the museum and its future. It is also important for our community.

Since its founding 20 years ago, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art has followed its mission to become a respected regional center and meeting place for the arts. It has drawn wide attention for its programs, attracted broad audiences and supporters from the Bay Area and beyond and has achieved name recognition and an enviable reputation among northern California museums.

Its name has been an important and unique factor, reflecting another aspect of Sonoma Valley’s quality of life and differentiating it from other museums with Sonoma in their names.

Changing the name will cause confusion, many questions, and require much time and effort to rebuild trust among museum members, partners and supporters. And it is unnecessary!

New ideas and marketing concepts can all be implemented without a change of name.

As one of the founding members of SVMA, I feel strongly that 20 years of hard work, achievement and success should not be discarded for a change of name.

Gerry Simmel

Sonoma