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Parents upset over Buellton school superintendent’s 20% raise

Posted at 6:18 PM, May 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 22:17:22-04

Several Buellton parents are furious after a 20% raise was approved for the Buellton Union School District Superintendent.

While the district says the superintendent​ should be compensated for a soon-to-be increasing workload, parents are hoping the district’s Board of Trustees will reconsider. ​

“When you give a raise to the person literally farthest away from touching any one of our kids, it doesn’t make sense to us,” said parent Wendy Campbell.

Dr. Randal Haggard’s new contract will bring his pay up to $175,000, with opportunities for raises and a full year of pay if he gets terminated.

“If that’s gonna be their decision, show what the metrics are, show a performance review, show the extra works added, whatever it is to support a bold decision,” said parent Zack Klamn.

Dr. Haggard says the reviews are confidential and that “the board publicly stated that the performance review was ‘satisfactory’ at the meeting on Wednesday night. The goals upon which the review is based are shared publicly in a regularly scheduled board meeting each year.”

The Buellton Unified School District says Superintendent Haggard will have an increased workload starting next school year.

On top of overseeing two schools and coordinating special education for seven school districts in the Santa Ynez Valley, the Buellton Unified School District could soon be home to around 15-17 students from the Vista Del Mar School District in Gaviota, bringing in added revenue to the district.

“This is complex, important work that impacts the educational experiences of students in Buellton and the Vista communities. Leadership matters, especially in times of change,” Dr. Haggard said.

But parents worry about what would happen if that deal falls through and the district loses out on the money from the partnership.

“If we don’t merge with Vista, he’s still going to get that raise either way. There’s nothing in the contract that stipulates that it would be null if the merger doesn’t go through,” Campbell said.

“Currently, we are in a shared services agreement with the Vista Del Mar School District which allows both districts to save resources through even a temporary consolidation via these agreements to share services. More importantly, the students of Vista (especially the middle school students who will join us next year) will enjoy access to excellent educational programs at Jonata Middle School, the only school in Santa Barbara County identified as a California Distinguished School in 2019,” Dr. Haggard explained.

The district also argues Dr. Haggard makes around $20,000 less than other superintendents in the county.

According to Transparent California, the Solvang School District Superintendent, who also oversees two schools, made over $200,000 in pay and benefits in 2018.

Parents we spoke to still want the board of trustees to look at alternatives.

“We can do a one time stipend, some type of compensation that doesn’t tie the hands of the school and doesn’t literally take resources away from kids,” said parent Leanna Watson.

The Buellton Union School District Board of Trustees President Elaine Alvarado told KSBY in a statement, “As a district, Buellton USD, with our exemplary teachers and staff, continues its outstanding successes, from county and state recognitions to our outstanding student academic performance. We look forward to the District’s continued success, the shared services with Vista Del Mar, and we also look forward to begin a collaborative and successful contract negotiations with the teachers and classified staff.”

Parents have been trying to reach out to the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) to get them to look over the contract and potentially stop it from going through.

SBCEO Director of Communications Valerie Cantella said, “SBCEO has a very specific role in the complex world of school finance. Our role, as it relates to district budgets, is that we review them for fiscal solvency. District boards have authority to increase and reduce expenditures within their budgets while maintaining solvency and prudent reserves. Neither the Santa Barbara County Education Office nor the County board has authority over superintendent contracts within any school district. Those decisions lie solely with the district’s school board.​”

Before the start of this school year, the school district was in such bad financial shape that they had to cut a few positions. Much of that was attributed to fewer enrolled students.

The superintendent tells us the deal with the Vista Del Mar District depends on Vista Del Mar’s Board of Trustees pursuing a waiver in order to lapse the district, followed by direction from the Santa Barbara County Education Office to finalize any consolidation. This could happen by July 2020.