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You Know I'm Right | Commentary by Betty Arenson
| Friday, Dec 13, 2013

bettyarensonHopefully this (unintended) fourth commentary on this subject will be the last. I just like to finish what I start.

This began as a story about the powers-to-be in the public sector telling taxpayers they must pay breathtaking salaries, plus perks, to get “the best” for the job at hand.

All too frequently, these pros end up as dismal failures. Taxpayers foot the bill but have no say in the process.

Be mindful that this is not solely Los Angeles’ school district; this is representative of how school bond dollars are hijacked and wasted, from our federal government dollars – our dollars – on down.

Specifically, I identified Dr. John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, who was hired in 2011 for $330,000 per year, plus perks, on a four-year contract. While other front-page events occurred on his watch, I highlighted Deasy’s haughty decision to spend $1 billion-with-a-B of taxpayers’ dollars to give all 650,000 LAUSD students and teachers an iPad.

So far, the project is a big, expensive bust – but everyone is still employed.

Here’s the synopsis to bring you up to date:

Deasy contracted with Apple to pay $678 per device.

That’s more than an over-the-counter price. It is unclear if the deal is lawful because LAUSD construction bond money is being tapped to pay the bills; many details of the contract are undefined for the pubic, including:

* the content of the needed future software. The curriculum content seems to be controlled between Apple and Pearson Education Inc., which could mean no control by LAUSD;

* When does that contract actually commence?

*When does the contract for each iPad’s initial Apple limited warranty begin?

There is no decision on whether the students can or should take the units home, away from the classroom. Who is financially responsible for lost/stolen/damaged units? Parents, students or taxpayers? There is a gross inadequacy with the security filters; their units have insufficient educational software downloads; and there are (now disclosed) contract issues that will raise the base price to $770 per device.

LAUSD also forgot to factor in:

* the need for keyboards (additional $38 million so far);

* the cost of classroom carts to charge and secure the units (increased price to date is $600,000);

* sales tax;

* mandatory recycling fees;

* maintenance and operation costs.

Teachers are also complaining that they are not receiving proper training. Extra costs.

Simple math tells us the iPads will now cost $903 each – so far.

Additionally, the state still requires schools to buy textbooks. It’s the law, irrespective of the $1 billion dollar-plus debacle.

Several weeks ago, Deasy called his pet project “an astonishing success,” and in October the district said its technology initiative is “amazing.”

Hmm. Successful and amazing; yet stalled, wholly inadequate, underfunded and incomplete.

Now, onto John Deasy’s “job”: He still has it.

For a bit of history, Deasy has been at odds with the UTLA (teachers’ union) President Warren Fletcher, the Board of Education President Richard Vladovic and the teachers themselves, who in April gave Deasy a “no confidence” vote with regard to his leadership, from 91 percent of the union’s 17,500 members.

In late October, much to the surprise of the aforementioned people and even Mayor Garcetti, Deasy spoke of resigning. He didn’t actually submit a letter of resignation, just let it be known. It was a successful tactic for him.

It seems before the resignation “leak,” Deasy was consulting about his contract with LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist. Behind closed doors, Deasy offered to resign as of February 2014 if he could stay on as a consultant until the June 30, 2015, contract’s end. This would, of course, allow him to keep his $330,000 annual salary. The agreement would also include that the departure is “solely for personal reasons and should not in any way be construed or understood as any admission of wrongdoing.”

Fabulous/ Taxpayers must fund the loser as well as the next “best” to be hired.

Behind closed doors, the decision has been made. Deasy is keeping his job as LAUSD superintendent.

Gosh, I had not considered this before: If that’s the “best,” what would the “worst” cost us?

 

Betty Arenson has lived in the SCV since 1968 and describes herself as a conservative who’s concerned about progressives’ politics and their impacts on the country, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She says she is unashamed to own a gun or a Bible, couldn’t care less about the color of the president’s skin, and demands that he uphold his oath to protect and follow the Constitution of the United States in its entirety. Her commentary publishes Fridays.

 

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