As a fellow parent of Hesperia Unified School District students, I too have felt the taxpayer's frustration of HUSD salaries and perks as they are expressed by Mr. Gerling in his letter. I firmly believe that the district's salary and perks for its administrative arms are more in touch with administrator's wants than with student's needs. However, the terms of this specific contract are certainly more favorable to taxpayers than the two previous superintendent's contracts were, which seems to reflect the current board's desire to correct contract errors of prior boards. It should also be specifically noted that Mr. McKinney displayed a high degree of integrity in this matter by placing himself at a step that is commiserate with his experience, which also demonstrates his sound judgment in recognizing, and acknowledging, the learning curve of the job.


As the terms of contracts are negotiated during good and bad economic times, it is unfair to argue the total terms of a single contract "in light of the state budget problems." Like most that watch and care about the district, particularly during these difficult financial times, I would hope that incremental and reasonable sacrifices would be readily borne by all, rather than simply setting some currently unknown number of teachers totally adrift.


But in light of the current difficult economic times, caused by Sacramento's never-ending failures to set priorities and then establish and live within a budget like the rest of us, I would also like to address the bias demonstrated by the latest online "poll" put up by the Hesperia Star which asks for response to their question "should the school board have paid a headhunting firm to come up with multiple superintendent candidates." Be very careful of journalists who try to tell you a question, as the Star does here.


The old school board, which crowned Hank Richardson with nary a search of even free public input, certainly placed no value on paying for a search for superintendent candidates, and they governed primarily through good economic times. The new board majority certainly sought free input from all willing to express it to them during the interim period they smartly utilized. They also watched and learned; which is rarely a bad thing. They did, however, stop short of spending headhunting money they did not have, which probably would have led them toward Mark McKinney's head, and heart, in the end anyway.


Victor Elementary School District, for example, just spent money to seek a replacement for the retiring, and grossly overpaid, Ralph Baker. They advertised nationally, received over twenty inquiries into the position, interviewed four people, yet then selected their own director of quality development, Dale Marsden, as their next superintendent. VESD spent, they searched, they found in-house. HUSD, on the other hand, found the right person in-house, in Mark McKinney, without spending money they simply do not have to spend at this time.


I believe that Mark McKinney is the right person to turn the page on past HUSD leadership problems. I believe that his fairly negotiated contract is in line with the work that he must do to accomplish this task. And I firmly believe that Mr. McKinney is the right person to help lead HUSD in doing even better tomorrow than it did today.