My union, the Fresno Teachers Association, has made quite a stink over the last two election cycles about the compensation package given to my boss, Superintendent Michael Hanson. The former head of the union, a hardball-playing, take-no-prisoners guy named Larry Moore, won election to the FUSD Board, beating out an incumbent who was sponsored by the local (conservative) political establishment, including the Lincoln Club's Michael Der Manouel and (conservative) talk-radio legend Ray Appleton. Why did Moore win? In part because of the criticism of (former) board member Manuel Nunez, who signed off on Hanson's generous contract....which, incidentally, is not that out of line with big-district contracts elsewhere.

Now, with both Moore and incumbent Supe critic Carol Mills poised to form a new voting bloc on the Board, Dr. Hanson seems prepared to undercut that criticism of his tenure by forgoing a already-agreed-upon pay increase and bonus pay, to the tune of about $42,000.

This is, frankly, a brilliant move. The moment his critics seize upon his contract, Hanson can point out his own sacrifice and unfavorably contrast the unwillingness of union members like yours truly to consider adjustments in their salary schedule or benefits in a time of economic crisis. I have no doubt that such rhetoric is in the works, with the massive state budget cuts projected. Not that I think the Supe will actually move to roll such back right away: the district, under his leadership, has a surplus that is about three times what is mandated by law, giving them a temporary cushion....and another talking point to throw back at Board Member-elect Moore, who constantly has carped about the size of the district's reserves.

I may not agree with the Superintendent on everything, but you have to admit, the guy knows how to sell his message. He's bright, bold, and he knows what he wants to do. It would be a shame if that ability is wasted, and that larger vision lost in skirmishes over personality or past grievances or a football player who shouldn't be allowed on the field, as seems about to happen.

I want the district to succeed.....in raising standards, and graduating more kids, and modernizing the facilities. I just don't want that success to be achieved at the expense of my profession.

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