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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

The buck stops there...and there....and there.....I’ve probably written right here in this space that I’ve never witnessed a superintendent so universally reviled than Dr. Tim Jenney. I really haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why he has failed to connect to a lot of people in the community. Of course, I’ve had little interaction with him personally so I don’t know if he is charming, grouchy, smart, dull, knowledgeable, sexy or whatever.

But I can state with certainty that we all need to be careful who we blame.

I made the mistake years ago in blaming a superintendent when actually he didn’t make a move that wasn’t approved by the board of trustees. In fact, all superintendent’s moves are approved by a board of trustees.

You probably were surprised when you heard that even though Fort Bend ISD has a budget shortfall of $20 million, has laid off several hundred teachers, cut several programs, and is threatening to close several schools, its board of trustees granted the superintendent an extension contract this past week.

And here’s what should really tick you off. They tried to say that in these difficult economic times they had reached an agreement with Dr. Jenney for a REDUCTION in his salary.

Two birds in the hand....Folks, even though I didn’t approve of his actions, I feel just like ol’ Joe Wilson did when he stood up and told the president during his state address, “You lie!”

Because that is exactly what they did. Here’s how it rolled out: The board claimed that Dr. Jenney took a $34,000 reduction in his approximately $350,000 annual salary which includes bonuses, annuities, expenses and retirement. What the board actually did was to take $34,000 that was supposed to be awarded to Dr. Jenney in a performance bonus (more about that later) and guaranteed it to him next year without the performance strings attached to be deposited into his retirement fund.

Let me state that again. They guaranteed him a tax-reduced payment of $34,000 next year that if they had paid this year, he would have had some performance goals to reach.

Then to kick a little sand in the taxpayers’ faces, they extended his contract for five more years.

About the performance bonus: it is based of things any decent superintendent should do. For example, he gets an extra $2,000 per year if he formally visits all 70 school sites. He also gets about $1,000 if he meets with department and grade level chairs at least three times per year, and another $1,500 to meet with a random group of new teachers three times per year.

And so it goes - $6,000 for conducting a thorough analysis of teacher absenteeism and creating a marketing campaign to improve attendance. And another $5,000 for improving all aspects of the Transportation Department’s fuel dispensing. (Heck, as I’ve said before, I thought just hiring a competent transportation director would be worth its weight in gold since according to complaints I have had for years, that has been severely lacking for some time.)

In any event, the $34,000 annuity which is supposed to be performance based is actually based on a performance that any superintendent should execute. Specifically, these goals are simply activities, (visit, write, file) and not performance.

He is also eligible for another $34,000 salary if he meets certain target gains. However, these target gains are achievements that a majority of school districts are expected to reach. Most districts in the Houston area will exceed them. In fact, this bonus will be eliminated altogether because the state is changing its academic ratings in the next year, so Dr. Jenney would have had to renegotiated his salary anyway. And the academic portion of his bonus is exactly what is being reduced or deferred in 2012 but will be reinstated in 2013, according to board president Sonal Bhuchar (who, by the way, I sternly warned that “it’s not nice to lie to Bev Carter”). When something is going to be reinstated in future years, that is a deferrable in my book.

Now I don’t know if you are riled up by now, but I sure am because the board went into executive session and didn’t emerge to vote on the new contract until every last audience member or reporter was gone. They even peeked out a couple of times to check.

Now mind you, they still had the nerve to send out a press release that called this a REDUCTION instead of a DEFERRAL.Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors.

There is one hopeful note. Trustee Jim Babb did not vote for the new contract. However, I have one thing to say to the following trustees (an oxymoron) Sonal Bhuchar, Susan Hohnbaum, Daniel Menendez, Laurie Caldwell, Marilyn Glover, and Jim Rice...liar, liar, pants on fire!

And another thing.....At least once a month, some charity has some big gala and an important part of that is usually a live auction of packages put together by the charity which will include trips, dinners for 30 people, some really nice things. And every month a group of people line up to bid on these auction items; people like Bob Brown, Bob Hebert, John Null, Jim Rice, Mike O’Connell, Jimmy Thompson, Doris and Joe Gurecky, May Tape, and Billie Neuhaus, can usually be counted on to cough up big bucks to support local programs. I don’t mean to leave anyone out as some people have favorite charities and only bid during those events. Many times the auction winner donates the item back to be re auctioned. Without them, many of the charities would certainly go begging.

My point is that never at one of these events has Tim Jenney ponied up and bid to support a local charity. My sources say he spreads a little money around the education community, but I know if I made about $350,000 per year, I would be bidding (and winning) on something at everything I went to. Way to go, Supe!

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Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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