Education

Suspended Modesto City Schools' administrator to get job review

Modesto City Schools Board listened to Deborah Bailey during public comments. Afterward the board went into closed session. June 1, 2009 (BART AH YOU/bahyou@modbee.com)
Modesto City Schools Board listened to Deborah Bailey during public comments. Afterward the board went into closed session. June 1, 2009 (BART AH YOU/bahyou@modbee.com)

Five weeks after being placed on paid administrative leave, Modesto City Schools' head of business will get a job evaluation.

Before trustees went into their closed-door meeting Monday, Debbe Bailey addressed the board a second time. In her four-page statement, Bailey asked the board for a meeting to address any accusations being levied against her.

"I believe that because I have expressed my opinions and beliefs regarding what is wise and right for this institution, I have been subjected over the past two years to persistent, continuous and escalating discriminatory treatment culminating in the notice of administrative leave," she said.

In closed session Monday, trustees directed their attorney to meet with Bailey this week. Once the evaluation is finished, trustees will release the document to the public in an effort to "maintain the trust and credibility" the board has established with the community, board President Steve Grenbeaux said as he read a statement. He gave no indication of when Bailey's evaluation would be released.

Bailey, who told the board the stress of the situation has affected her health, said after the meeting that she blacked out on her way home. She was undergoing cardiac tests at Emanuel Medical Center at press time.

Grenbeaux said it's been difficult to respond to the community about Bailey's status and comply with state law requiring confidentiality on personnel matters.

As deputy superintendent of business services, Bailey was in charge of overseeing the 28,000-student district's finances.

In her address to the board, Bailey alluded to district employees questioning decisions made by administrators, but said those concerns or actions were not meant to undermine Superintendent Arturo Flores.

"There's a reason why those of us who have to make unpopular recommendations have contracts -- so that we have the job security necessary to allow us to make decisions and recommendations that are difficult, politically unpopular and possibly at odds with our supervisor without having to consider whether we'll be without income the next month," she said. "It's to allow us to put principle before personal interest."

Bailey would not elaborate on any specific disagreements she had with Flores, although in her statement she cited recommendations he made that were "ill-advised or downright dangerous for the district fiscally."

Also Monday, the board discussed the district's shrinking budget.

Staff told trustees that the most recent information on Gov. Schwarzenegger's revised budget shows cuts of $6.7 million more from Modesto City Schools' 2008-09 budget. For 2009-10, officials are bracing for $10.8 million in chopping. The district's total budget is about $270 million.

On top of that, Sacramento is planning on continuing to delay -- by months -- cash payments owed to school districts.

"Cash flow will be a challenge," said Dennis Snelling, district director of business services.

Officials are anticipating a loss of 450 students next school year. Public school districts get the bulk of their funding through student attendance.

A silver lining is the $23.1 million officials are getting in federal stimulus funding.

And finally Monday, trustees approved letting staff look for cheaper ways to borrow about $10 million of Gregori High School's $120 million construction.

The current "lease-leaseback" agreement with Gregori High builder Acme Construction Co. Inc. calls for borrowing the money from Acme with a 4.25 percent interest rate.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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