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Teachers protest Klentschy award

March 29, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

El Centro Elementary School District teachers demonstrated Wednesday outside a reception where ECESD Superintendent Michael Klentschy was given a superintendent of the year award.

Klentschy was named superintendent of the year for Imperial and San Diego counties by the Association of California School Administrators.

Wearing black, holding black balloons and carrying signs reading "Klentschy gets the apple, teachers get the core," teachers and supporters maintained a high profile outside Jacques 'N Jills Health Club, where Klentschy was receiving the award.

"We are trying to gain attention, to inform the public and raise public awareness," said Bruce Roberts, El Centro Elementary Teachers' Association president.

Although Klentschy is not a member of the contract negotiating team, the teachers' association thinks he should be more involved in settling the contract matter.

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"Through the role of superintendent he should be a part of the solution," said Roberts.

Roberts said as a leader, Klentschy has the obligation to move the board "with the right information in the right direction."

Roberts added, "He could in fact influence the board in such a way as to get resolution to this. We'd like to see him have an impact on the board."

Roberts conceded the demonstration, and the recent "no confidence vote" in Klentschy by teachers recently will create "a little irritant."

Teachers cast a "no confidence" vote against Klentschy on March 21.

Roberts said he feels there is "still some room" in the negotiation process.

"We hope they come back and meet us with a reasonable offer," Roberts said, adding he would not be surprised if teachers are considering moving out of the district.

"We have maintained a good salary schedule, a good benefits package and working conditions. Now there is a deterioration in morale," Roberts said.

Describing the teachers as "very frustrated," Helen Wong, a teacher at Kennedy Middle School, said, "We are going to get attention any way we can."

Said Elaine Sonneville, a teacher at Washington Elementary: "Klentschy is getting an award and there is no recognition for teachers who are in the classroom every day."

Klentschy has been praised for his improvements in the district by trustees, who mention as examples the science grants Klentschy has obtained and the completion of work projects at Kennedy.

Trustee Janie Marlborough said the demonstration "hasn't tainted the award."

"The award is based on his merits as a superintendent," Marlborough said. "His job isn't to settle negotiations."

Arnold Percialo, assistant superintendent, said, "The attention should be on the awards and the recipients of the awards, not on the teachers demonstrating."

Trustee Ramona Dillon supported Klentschy as well.

"He is a great superintendent. He is concerned for the teachers and the school district. It's not fair to him to be targeted. They should ask their questions to the board," Dillon said.

"I believe it is a fair offer and I wish we could settle," added Dillon.

Said Marlborough: "The teachers should be proud to have a superintendent honored by the state."

Klentschy's only comment was, "I'm honored that the Association of California School Administrators have seen fit to honor teachers and administrators in the Imperial Valley."

The demonstrators' chants and whistles were the background music at the awards ceremony, which was for all nine local recipients of administrator and teacher of the year awards.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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