Skrehot Lists Priorities for School Board

Former board member Ron Skrehot explains why he is running again for a seat, and what he thinks the top three issues are that face Martinez schools.

Patch asked Ron Skrehot, former Martinez Unified School District board member, why he is once again running for a seat. Here are his reasons, in Skrehot's own words:

First, dealing with budget cuts caused by the reduction of the state budget.  Even if Proposition 30 passes the money owed to school districts around California through Proposition 98 will not be made up. The best scenario is that major cuts will be avoided for the current year. Under Proposition 98 the state currently owes districts about 20% of their one year budget amounts and that figure grows annually. 

For Martinez Unified that is about 6 million dollars as of May 2012. Neither Proposition 30 nor 38 will make that up. Also, Proposition 30 has no guarantees that the money has to be used for education throughout its life. Proposition 98 was stated to the voters of California as “Minimum Funding Guarantees for Education”. It has been anything but a guarantee and like the current Prop 30, is filled with loopholes to relieve state politicians from their responsibilities to provide many services. There have been several other resources from this very generous community to make up some of those shortfalls.

The second issue is GASB 45 funding. Because of years of budget cuts, MUSD has had no additional funds to put into long term accounts to pay for future benefits for employees and retirees. To help offset some of this and to help current budget shortfalls, employees have allowed a cap to their current benefits paid for by the district and employees pay the rest. If the state were to give MUSD what is owed just through Prop 98 funding it could go a long way to supporting future unfunded liabilities.

The third issue is around Measure K bond projects. I was a board member at the time Measure K was put on the ballot and supported the measure because of what the state has been doing to education funding for nearly a decade. 

There was one board member who opposed the measure completely and a second who wanted to wait and put it on the ballot at some later date. 

Those two members are John Fuller and Denise Elsken and they are up for re-election this fall. Their opposition was completely out of sync with the needs of the district and the support of the community.  Since the passage of measure K, they slowed the process for issuing the bonds, they have slowed decisions on the projects funded by measure K which makes the costs of those projects more expensive and delays completion. They have tried to micromanage those projects and ignore what district administration and staff have outlined as the most critical facility needs around the district. They have tried to micromanage the architects hired to work with staff to understand those needs and provide the best possible solutions to meet those needs. As board members that is not their charter and many of their actions are in their own interests instead of the best interests of the community. 

This is the main reason I have decided at this time to run once again for election after a two year break which came after eight years on the board. 

I support Kathi McLaughlin for re-election and welcome Dena Betti as a partner to this opportunity to remove the two self interests that currently reside on the board. The three of us have the support of the current Board President and Vice President and ask for the support of this community in November.

George March September 02, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Hi Ron, Perhaps 'devastating reductions' were needed to a bloated Vicente/Briones proposal - even so, it was still approved at $5 Million: 11% of the entire Measure K dollar amount!! Only slightly less than the budget for the solar project which is district-wide. To be equitable among all students of the district, how many students will that serve over the lifetime of the new construction? Ideally we, as responsible parents and administrators, do not encourage a significant number of students to enter an alternative program, although it may be the correct path for some students. Getting back to your goals (as opposed to others...) what specific Measure K projects do you fully support?
Ron Skrehot September 03, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Hm...., sounds just like what John and Denise would say, and have said in public meetings. Sounds like you're in their camp and that's fine, it's your right and your decision. So you believe that even with a small student and staff population Vicente and Briones schools don't deserve the same learning and working environment as our other sites? I believe they do deserve it. You haven't sat in a board seat at a meeting and heard parents cry and shake with joy that their child found a new interest in school and learning that they thought was impossible, but made possible through one of the programs there. I used to think as you but, the experience I had seeing those kinds of differences made in the lives of non-mainstream students every day changed my thinking. Denise has heard them as well but she has a short memory. These students and staff are people to should be treated like people, not second class as John or Denise would have you believe. More to come...
Ron Skrehot September 03, 2012 at 12:25 AM
I support the list of projects as presented by the district. As board members are not in the day to day operation of the district I believe it is best to allow the staff we hire to make those decisions based on need, not the personal interests like John or Denise have in a particular program. If board members are allowed or encouraged to micromanage to that degree then why do we need to hire staff? Why not just have the board just run it all? I'm not talking about oversite, but micromanaging to the point of making staff feel under valued or unnecessary. There is a wide chasm between the two and Denise and John has crossed that. I said in a public meeting when the measure K proposal was made and again when it was passed, that $45 million wouldn't be enough. The list goes well beyond the resource and the needs are much larger. With the oversight committee involvement I feel we can trust them and staff to make those decisions. Tell me why you don't.
George March September 03, 2012 at 06:28 AM
Ron, I am glad to hear that you support the list of projects as presented by the district, and hopefully as currently funded, without change. As I noted before, I suspect all board members have personal favorites among the projects (whether they admit it or not), and it is usually telling by the project discussion and how the final votes are tallied. Having more to 'play with' than $45M would be nice, but that is not what's on tap, so the board and district must abide by the wording of the Bond and the vote of the people who are trusting the board to allocate funds appropriately and the district to manage them prudently. The Oversight Committee is there by law, but has no say in where funds are spent. Their only real power is whistle-blowing after the fact. I applied to be on the Measure K Oversight Committee in part because I didn't want the named bond projects, also noted as "Community Expectations", to be dangled along while the funds got used up on other unspecified projects. I know now that being on the committee would not prevent that from happening, unless the funds were illegally misused.
Ron Skrehot September 04, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Hi Again, I agree that the design of the committee gives it's function after the projects are done but district staff has taken input from the committee prior to the start of projects and I appreciate that. I feel they have gone a long way to present an atmosphere of community through the whole process and that says a lot about their feelings about the support of the community. I support the decisions of district staff and the architects to outline the facility needs. Some projects already started have been bid lower than originally expected. Let's hope that happens more often. Ron


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