Although certainly not surprising, it was disappointing to see the Hesperia Teachers Association resort to factual inaccuracies (some folks call these lies) in their recent paid advertisements in The Daily Press. But as most people know, there is very little truth in advertising and even less found in public employee union rhetoric.


The "vacant" school in reference is 13 classrooms. Its size and location provide very few options for the Hesperia Unified School District's use. It very well may be leased out for next year, bringing in much needed revenue for the district. That seems reasonable to me.


The "new" HUSD police car, inaccurately portrayed in the union's advertisement photograph, is actually a used 2006 model that was bought for $16,500. It was bought without prior board approval, but reasonable hindsight shows that it was a pretty good deal nonetheless. HUSD maintains our own police force, which is a pretty smart idea for a community as large as ours, and they need stuff like police cars.


Our school calendar for next year is currently set at 180 days. Furlough days were negotiated with two employee groups, classified and unrepresented, but these are reasonable steps to take in a difficult economy.


We have, regrettably, laid off teachers in the past two years in efforts to get our increasing expenditures in line with our declining revenues. I recently sat through my second year of heart and gut-wrenching reduction in force hearings and will, again, not sleep comfortably for the next few weeks as I contemplate the damages to young, bright, enthusiastic, energetic career minded teachers trying to get their foot in the door. My feelings of sorrow and helplessness for these losses seem pale in comparison to the real damage being done to their families. But this is one of the very few options available to a school district to reduce expenditures as we try to balance our budget and live within our means.


Total HUSD board compensation per annum is roughly $100,000. We do each get stipends of $486.00 per month and receive health and welfare benefits without cost to the board members. I personally will commit to donating a substantial portion of this stipend to individual school groups in the district for their use. I already have used much of the stipend money for this purpose.


And here too is found my own version of political hypocrisy for I publicly stated that I would not take these benefits when I was campaigning, but took them upon recognizing the very real costs associated with serving on the HUSD governing board. It is an error that I am sorry for, but one of my own making. My regrettable hypocrisy in this arena will be judged in the ballot box, as all my actions will be.


I presume that the HTA advertisement was an attempt to communicate their unwillingness to reduce their work year, and thus their compensation in kind. I also presume that it communicates their unwillingness to look at raising class sizes to help mitigate the budget crisis we face. I, too, do not seek to have larger class sizes or a shorter school year, so the ads were helpful in recognizing where HTA will not bend.


But we do have a substantial deficit spending problem to contend with for the next few years at least. And bridging this gap will take some give. Two groups, CSEA Chapter 684 and management, took the necessary, but very costly, steps to help deal with the problem. CSEA, blue collar to the bone, agreed to substantial reductions, and these hard-working people earn nowhere near what our teachers do. But they seem to understand that working for less is far better than not working for nothing.


We are, currently, at impasse with HTA and their advertisements show how very different our perspectives may be. I fear for our district's future and our working relationship with this group, in great part due to the ads. But they have the money to spend on ads at their disposal, so we may all be living with them for the foreseeable future.


I am grateful for the HUSD teachers that have and do commit to educating my own four HUSD kids. I am fearful that the economics of the times will defray the morale and relationships that are required to maintain the level of educational opportunities that all of our HUSD children will need to avail themselves of in the future.


I certainly do not seek to "pauperize" any teacher. I work hard to find workable solutions to the problems that confront our district. I spend countless hours trying to find give in a very restricted budget environment and a contentious governing board establishment. I gleefully pray for peace, regrettably plan for war, and optimistically hope for better days.


Somewhere between our differences are the similarities that unite us in our endeavors to bring about a well-rounded and reasonable education for the children of HUSD. I work to help find the path that will lead us from these dark economic times toward a brighter and prosperous future. I hope and pray to have partners, not adversaries, in this search. I hope we break through on the brighter side bruised, but unbowed, in our ultimate quest to help bring about a better future for our kids. I think we can get there, ad free.