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Bolgen Vargas wants to get a handle on his cabinet. The cabinet is made up of a group of non-union secretaries and administrators called the Superintendent Employee Group, which has its own contract.

The Democrat and Chronicle reports he wants them to start paying for health insurance and plans to scale back other benefits:

Currently, members of the non-unionized superintendent’s employee group do not pay anything toward their health insurance. Vargas wants them to start paying between 10 and 15 percent of their costs, putting them in line with teachers.


Vargas also wants to reign in vacation time for the group of ranking administrators, many of whom come into the job with five weeks of vacation that they can cash in if they do not use it.

Vargas will present a specific proposal to the board next week.

The SEG has long been a source of contention. Its members enjoy benefits other unions do not. When members are fired, they can collect six-months severance (depending on hire date, I believe) and a cashout of sick and vacation time. (This is why if Vargas plans job reductions or personnel changes, it will cost the district initially.)

Former superintendents Jean-Claude Brizard and Manuel Rivera spent a lot of money on their cabinets. Brizard promised to reduce spending, but actually increased it by 40 percent. (This post has links to prior SEG lists and salaries.)

It’s too soon to know how Vargas’ proposal will impact the budget. If he scales back benefits, but increases the ranks of SEG, it could be a wash. If he moves people out of SEG into ASAR, he hasn’t really cut high-level administrative positions.

We’ll be watching because monitoring cabinet spending is important. School districts are not private companies. Public dollars shouldn’t be unnecessarily lavished on public workers, especially in tight fiscal times. We also care because leaders set examples and priorities. How much the guy at the top rewards his “insiders” is often very revealing.

Update: The D&C updated its report and included a list of current positions – without names – and salaries. The secretaries have been removed. The remaining list of administrators in SEG looks a lot like Bill Cala’s more-streamlined setup. The jury is still out, however, as Vargas is not done with his reorganization.

2 Responses to Cutting the Cabinet

  1. May 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    Bolgen vargas repersents an move started by supt. peter mcwalters to allow corprate influnce in public education. privite corprations are taking over public education because there is so much money in public education.

    Running goverment more like a business means everyone at the top gets the most and the crumbs are left for everyone else and that includes the students.

  2. May 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm lynn e responds:

    Good guy. I think Bolan Vargas is impressive in most categories. Your other commenter is right in general and Bolan Vargas has made some comments a out running school as a. Business but essentially I don’t think he’s corporate but humanist.

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