Stunning audacity



To the Editor:

The request for a paid sabbatical for the director of special services for the Mount Desert Island Regional School System is a stunning example of unabashed audacity.

The proposal would pay that public employee $58,000, which was described as roughly half her compensation, making her pay more than $100,000 a year. She was also seeking a couple of thousand dollars more for professional development, and another $1,000 for travel.

Am I living in another universe? A public school administrator, one paid with taxpayer money, wants a break from a stressful job and wants taxpayers to financially support it?

Astounding.

I question the judgment of the four school committee members who voted in favor of granting this nervy request. I would challenge the four that are so generous with other people’s money to explain their reasoning and logic.

As to all the school officials quoted in the Nov. 27 Islander article who appear to equate the director’s stress level with that of a big city trauma surgeon’s, or perhaps the urgency and tension that accompanies the duties of a head of state, maybe they should spend more time in the company of a first grade teacher. Follow her around for a day. Note her uncanny ability to look one student directly in the eyes, listening intently, while simultaneously watching the other 15 students in her class; note that she has no cadre of assistants to help her try desperately to meet the needs of 16 distinct individuals. You will find no secretaries to help her perform her duties; offer to watch her class so that she might get to use the restroom when necessary, instead of holding it until recess. Follow her home at night to observe time spent preparing for the following day. See her handle social problems between and among six year olds daily. Watch how she deals with behavior issues, all the while paying attention to her charges.

As a taxpaying citizen, with my own stress level, I find the idea that a school administration official wants taxpayers to fund a “recharging of batteries” to border on arrogant condescension.

Everyone has job stress. School administrators and teachers do not have a monopoly on stress. Lobstermen, lab workers, retail clerks, public works employees, mechanics, nurses, construction workers and everyone else who would be footing the bill for a $60,000 year away from work (sounds like the definition of paid vacation), face stress in their jobs. And any public employee who thinks they have more stress than all the other workers whose taxes pay their salary, is either naive, or worse yet, arrogant.

It would be appropriate for the school committee to consider a leave of absence. Her job is no doubt stressful. If the committee votes to hold the job for a one year of unpaid leave, totally unpaid leave, so be it. However, not one penny of taxpayer money should be used to pay someone not to work.

 

Terry Stanley

Tremont

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