Issues are budget, transparency

By John Deal August 26, 2009 01:42 pm

In the Aug. 14 Community Comment “Difficult Decision to Quit Coaching,’’ Jim MacKay states that I have misled the public and smeared his name. It seems to me that I did not mention his name in my Aug. 12 letter, “For the Greater Good,” nor did I smear anything other than to shed light on a school district raise that was not made privy to the taxpayers.

My letter had nothing to do with MacKay’s untarnished fatherhood and basketball coaching history. It was about school board budget transparency and money being allocated to what was perceived by Jim to be a “cushy” job, though he denies having a conversation with me.

The reason for my initial letter to the editor was not to cast dispiteous doubt on Mr. Mackay but rather to illuminate the salient point that, while the school board was transparent about the cuts made to help lower the school deficit, it was not forthcoming about the new job addition and fat raise.

Superintendent Larry Glaze tells us that giving Jim a huge raise is actually saving the taxpayers money. How so?

The fact still remains that when Gary Howland left the plant and operations manager position, the decision to not fill that position was to help offset the staggering education deficit.

If you look over the school board budget projections, you will find no mention of giving a maintenance worker an extra $15,000 for a .5 position.

Consider this: Mr. Panicke is not getting a pay raise for the additional hours of maintenance supervision, and before he changed positions, Jim Martin was certainly not getting a pay raise when the board cut .5 FTE from his full-time athletic director’s position and replaced it with the .5 FTE as plant and operations manager.

So why is MacKay getting a 15K bonus in addition to his regular wages in these difficult economic times, to do a part-time job he himself professes to have already been doing all these years? Did the other three maintenance personnel get a $15,000 “stipend” since they are on-call too?

Another point to consider is that the new maintenance on-call position went into effect when the board was changing its members. Was that just a coincidence? Also, what about the school board’s decision to increase the pay-to-play student fee and the Lions club giving $3,000 for student scholarships?

Why is it that when you call the maintenance department no one ever answers the phone and no one wears a pager for this on-call position?

As a resident of Union County, a taxpayer and a huge proponent of keeping athletics going in this school district, I find too many questions vaguely addressed and the math not adding up.

John Deal is a La Grande resident.