Recently there have been numerous radio ads and newspaper pieces written by Marianne Slade-Troutman. She seems to be preoccupied with attacking Holly Hermansen, superintendent of schools. However, her allegations against Ms. Hermansen are based upon faulty information.
I am a retired educator with 36 years of experience. I have been a teacher, principal, district superintendent, and most recently, the associate superintendent of Student Services for the Superintendent of Schools office.
In the years prior to my retirement last June, I regularly attended county board meetings and am familiar with the educational issues facing the county.
ALLEGATION: In her newspaper and radio pieces, Marianne repeatedly stated that Superintendent Hermansen intends to utilize new state funding to build a “Taj Mahal” office building, utilizing funding that was intended for classroom use.
Fact: Hermansen has gone on record several times over the past two years stating that she would lease or purchase a new facility only if it was cost neutral or resulted in savings.
The county programs and operations are currently housed in six separate facilities.
A larger, single facility could house most of these programs, resulting in staff efficiency, adequate parking and meeting space, and a savings to the taxpayer.
ALLEGATION: Hermansen has added three new administrators rather than help the schools.
Fact: The County Board of Education recently voted to add three new positions. So far, two directors (not administrators) have been hired to provide assistance directly to the schools.
One director will help schools implement new state mandated standards and assessments.
The second director will help schools develop and implement school safety plans and procedures, as well as address school culture issues such as bullying.
Both directors were hired from our local school districts and have extensive training and expertise in their respective areas.
ALLEGATION: Hermansen has built an unnecessarily large $4 million reserve rather than use the funds to assist schools and teachers.
Fact: The county is a repository for the reserve funds of the many programs it operates. A majority of the funds in county reserves belong to the various charter schools, preschool programs, special education programs, and grant-funded programs that operate under county authority.
These funds can only be utilized by the program that generated the funding.
The county is mandated by the state to carry 4 percent reserves to ensure solvency.
Additionally, the county board recently voted to increase this reserve level to 8 percent.
Slade-Troutman voted in favor of this increased reserve level.
For the past several years, school districts have seen not only funding cuts, but also funding “deferrals” wherein the state delayed owed monies to districts to ease the state’s own cash flow problems.
As a result, several districts and programs have experienced cash flow issues so severe that they literally ran out of money.
County reserves are crucial as a safety net to assist our districts and charter schools in meeting payroll and maintaining solvency when these cash flow crises arise.
Schools are not yet out of the fiscal crisis. It seems to me to be ill advised to criticize Hermansen for being fiscally prudent given our current economic uncertainties.
ALLEGATION: Hermansen has decreased student programs.
Fact: Student programming has increased under Hermansen’s leadership. I know because I supervised the county’s student programs.
State and Federal grants as well as partnerships with local government and nonprofit agencies allowed the county office to expand preschool and toddler programs, support our families through three school-based Family Resource Centers and provide all schools in the county with anti-bullying programs.
In addition, the county office supported school-based mental health services, crisis counseling at the high schools, social skills curriculum at all schools, increased programming for at-risk students, and programs for visual and performing arts.
ALLEGATION: Hermansen chose to close the Imaginarium.
Fact: The Armory building which housed the Imaginarium was leased to the county office by the state. The state decided to “recapture” hundreds of their leased-out facilities.
The Imaginarium was evicted by the state and had no choice but to vacate the Armory. Simultaneously, the Department of State Architect issued a decision stating that the Armory didn’t meet earthquake standards and could not be used for student programming.
The county office opted not to purchase the Armory when it later became available. It is ill suited for the county’s needs.
Marianne Slade-Troutman is entitled to her own opinions, but not to her own facts.
Stanton Miller lives in Grass Valley.