Superintendent's raise should go to services
Since the superintendent of Buellton Union School District, Dr. Haggard, was hired his efforts have been incredibly well thought-out and transparent. He has clearly shown the staff, students, school board, and community members that his interests lie solely with improving his own financial situation at the expense of students and staff.
Recently, Dr. Haggard went as far as to propose a 23% increase in salary for himself, 24 vacation days, 100% coverage of benefits (teachers average $500 a month for health benefit premiums), as well as a golden parachute -- a lush termination package that includes a full year of salary ($175,000) plus benefits paid in full.
That he would even suggest such a package for himself just a year after significant cuts in critical student mental health services, teacher positions, aide positions, and lack of teacher raises is unconscionable. While it appears that the merger with Vista will help the fiscal situation of BUSD, the citizens of Buellton expected that the school board would use any additional funds to finally rebuild recently cut critical services and staff, and compensate our teachers appropriately.
Parents and staff came to the school board meeting in force on May 8, and spoke of the impact that last year’s cuts had on students, including: just one aide on the playground supervising 150 children at recess, lack of clean drinking water, large classes, reduced intervention services, minimal counseling and mental health supports, and a heartbreaking loss of morale among the staff who are working harder than ever to fill in the gaps.
All of these priorities that have a significant, daily impact on students were overlooked, as the board approved Dr. Haggard’s proposal to pad his own salary by a 3-2 vote. This action was a clear dereliction of duty by board members Sarquilla, Alvarado and Morgan. They quite literally took essential resources away from the children of Buellton in a grand undeserved gift to Dr. Haggard. It is time to stand up and correct this grievous error by insisting that the school board be held accountable, and restore BUSD for the children of Buellton.
A shout-out to unsung heroes
We are fortunate to have dedicated professionals manning the trucks of Lompoc’s Urban Forestry Division. We recently contacted the City concerning dead limbs trapped in a privet tree at the entrance to Beattie Park.
It was truly a pleasure to watch the two workers, Tracy Tripp and Alfredo Garcia, maneuver their way around the tree. They worked like artists, taking pride in their craft, removing not only the large, obviously dead branches, but also other deadwood that initially was not visible from the ground.
Before this could happen though, the City had to figure out under which jurisdiction, Parks or Urban Forestry, the tree grows. So, it was also very gratifying to have Danny Lara and Dirk Ishiwata of the Parks Division work together with Sean O’Neil of Urban Forestry to get the tree cleaned up.
Too often, we citizens complain about our City services, but the reality is, we are blessed to have overworked employees like these who care for our City and for us. I want to offer a big thank you to all these gentlemen.