Garvey's Future


What do we REALLY want to be happening inside Garvey District’s schoolrooms? Do we want quiet, studious classrooms where every child in every classroom at the same grade level is on the same page, studying the same skill at the same time by doing the same skill sheets and workbook pages? Or do we want classrooms alive with activity where children are enthusiastically interacting with each other, with the teacher, with technology - investigating, collaborating, discovering, solving problems, working together?

If your view of the modern classroom is the first one mentioned – the one Ms. Johnson desires - then you’ve been watching ‘50’s-‘60’s television too much! If you desire the latter classroom, congratulations, you’ve been listening to the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg and understand the needs of 21st Century students. Schools should never be factories, grinding out “finished products” ready to take orders and do what they are told to do. They should be bubbling cauldrons of innovative activities that tap into a child’s enthusiasm to find out why. They should be dynamic systems that promote creativity and problem solving. They should be beehives abuzz with group activities that lead to shared responsibilities and learnings. They should be supportive places where children are not afraid to express opinions and gain the self confidence to accept the opinions of others.

Every commentator on this blog should forget their personal peeves and join together to make this dream of a modern, forward-looking school district a reality. We all want what is best for our children. It’s not about the teachers OR the administration. It’s about how to best have them work together to begin moving forward again, together. The time for casting blame and finding fault must be over. We must again return to the teamwork that produced the tremendous growth of the school district over the past several years.

There is still one problem

"The time for casting blame and finding fault must be over. We must again return to the teamwork that produced the tremendous growth of the school district over the past several years."

Mr. Bruesch, I couldn't agree more. There is one problem though, and you mention it in your second paragraph. Dr. Johnson. We will never get back to teamwork until she is gone from the District. Many have been trying for a year to change the management style, but all have failed.

We are counting on you to lead the charge. Dr. Johnson has 5 bosses and you are one of them.

To Garvey Teacher

Garvey Teacher talks about changing the management style of Dr. Johnson. I would say let's talk about changing the Management style of GEA's Leaders starting with Mr. Drange. GEA needs to understand this is a crisis and Teachers and Classified need to take cuts being it is a fair share. GEA unlike all surrounding districts has refused to budge and play the selfish child. "No It's Mine and You Can't Have It". I remind you and GEA, it is not yours. It is our tax money and we elect our representatives to make good choices on how this money is spent. Having a school distict paying out around 94% to people and benefits is not only wrong but ridiculous. How is a school district supposed to function on 6%. No wonder classrooms don't have the materials and equipment they need. This Teacher Union is more concerned with saving the benefits and salary of a few veteran teachers than saving a few of the rookie (new) teachers who would probably be more than willing to take their fair share to save their job. Shame on you GEA and Garvey Teacher for supporting such a draconian philosophy. Save Yourself and let other fend for themselves. Your sentence should read, "We will never get back to teamwork until GEA Leadership is gone from the District." It seems Dr. Johnson is maybe the only Superintendent who is willing to try to make it a team effort but won't get anywhere with GEA not wanting to play.

More misinformation

Here again we see the Superintendent's skewed message getting through. I wish that you would sit down with Mr. Drange and GEA leadership and get some information that is not intended to mislead.

The District is currently spending 94% of its general fund expenditures on salary and benefits. This includes administration, classified and teachers. The characterization that this is 94% of all funds in the District leaves out some important information.

1. Michael Coughlin, the Assistant Superintendent in the business office is on record saying that districts in general try to keep this number at about 85%. The Garvey District is choosing to not spend over 10% of their general fund this year. (Above what they are legally obligated to keep in reserve) They are keeping it in the bank. It is not helping this years kids. If they were spending that 10% our number would be right in line with the 85% figure.

2. The unrestricted money which is being referred to is $28,856,134.03 this year according to the second interim report from the District. This post would imply that the rest of the District is running on $1.7 million. This is far from the truth.

The total District budget this year is $46,035,432.03. There is over $17 million that the District pretends does not exist when they discuss the budget with different groups. The District doesn't talk about categorical funds, but they are real and they run many of our curricular programs.

The District says categorical money is restricted. They are right. It is restricted, but it is restricted to helping our students in specific programs. We are not restricted from spending it to run our schools.

The school district is mandated to spend at least 60% of their total funding directly in the classroom. Teacher salary is included in this calculation. A good question to ask would be, "Why does the Garvey School District have such a hard time maintaining that 60% minimum." Every year they barely maintain it. Look it up, it is public record. It is rare in school districts that just the minimum is spent in the classroom for kids, but it is the norm here in Garvey. (Can't blame that one on Dr. Johnson, but she is far from trying to correct the matter.)

Has the Superintendent ever shown you a comparison of our administrative costs as compared to other districts?

The writer of the comment above is being spoon-fed skewed information, and until he/she seeks more knowledge, he/she will continue to be used by Dr. Johnson to divide this District. I can't seek out every post on this topic and try to dispel myths. Instead of deriding GEA, give them a call (626)576-2488 and get both sides to the story. Get some information and then make an informed rather than snap decision. You may not agree with the teachers, but at least understand the budget before making blanket statements about how money is spent.

I hope you have been reading both sides of the bargaining notes. (GEA's version is here:

The District has not been forthright in their negotiations. They came to the table with three calendar proposals. GEA agreed to one and then the District said, we can't do that one. At the next session a new proposal was put out by the District, again GEA agreed and again the District pulled back their offer.

GEA wants to talk about hard honest numbers with the District, but instead hours have been spent on calendar because the District changes its mind at every bargaining session. The real problem is the District Team tries to negotiate and reach agreement based on the needs of all parties, but the agreement doesn't align with the desire of Dr. Johnson to have Garvey's calendar align with Alhambra's. The District Team does not have the authority to make decisions even though they have placed their legal counsel at the table, on the clock. They make a proposal, GEA agrees to it and then the District backs out of its own proposal. How will a contract ever be reached if the District can't agree with itself?

GEA asked for information regarding the categorical budget, and 3 weeks later have received nothing. How can GEA negotiate without information. Teachers know we are in a budget mess, but the Superintendent has her negotiating team playing games at the table with calendar. 6 hours have been spent on calendar and the district can't agree to a calendar they proposed. Blame the teachers all you want, but it is the District playing games here.


Thanks for providing both sides of the negotiations website.

Now it has reached the Board

If anyone takes the time to look at Dr. Johnson's history, everywhere she goes she creates division. Now the division has reached the School Board.

Members of the School Board, (Henry Lo and Tony Ramos, in the Tribune) keep stating that the teacher unrest is about the money. This is not about the money! GEA and GSD are negotiating, and have the same goal of keeping the District solvent. GEA has not taken a stand against concessions despite everyone thinking they have. Everyone at the table needs to agree on the facts. GEA has pointed out problems with the GSD analysis and GSD has changed their numbers. Once agreement on reality is reached, then discussions about solutions can be had.

What positive job performance has there been by the Superintendent?

If the goals of the District include creating mistrust, spreading deception, creating factions to bicker with each other and uniting the employees against management, then Mission Accomplished.

How this helps our students I don't know.

We can become more entrenched and turn a battle into a war, or try to wipe the slate clean and work together to move forward.

Keeping Dr. Johnson will not bring civility.

Shared Sacrifice

To Anonymous:
I just love your statement that "It is our tax money and we elect our representatives to make good choices on how this money is spent." Your statement does not take into account the fact that ALL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES are also tax payers and that it is their money too. You talk about shared sacrifice but I have yet to hear the board members pass an agenda item stopping their monthly stipends of $200+. If the board would lead the way in shared sacrifice, they would save the district $12,000.00 per year. When Dr. Johnson began her crusade to convince everyone that the district has a budget crisis, where was her shared sacrifice? Why didn't she lead the way? Does the district leadership really expect the GEA and CSEA staff to make all the sacrifices? Do the parents also expect to get off scot free? Where is the sacrifice on the part of the parents? You're stakeholders too. Why doesn't each parent donate money to the school district to help with the budget? Why is it always just the employees who have to sacrifice?

And please tell me what "No wonder classrooms don't have the materials and equipment they need" means? What classrooms don't have what materials or equipment?

As a member of a union, I would hope that my bargaining team would negotiate a fair contract which protects my rights, working conditions and benefits. After all, I don't work for free! I work hard to support my family, have medical benefits and put my children through school. When push comes to shove, then I'm always going to consider my children first before yours. I'm sorry if that offends you but I'm just being honest. Before you ask me to chip into the pot, chip in yourself.