Wait. What? BOE Propaganda And Misinformation


The Kay Murray and Jim Stallings news and chit chat show on WAJR at its best brings news and levity to listeners during the morning in the greater Monongalia County area. When not at its best, the show serves as an obsequious propaganda hour for the Monongalia County Board of Education, often rife with misinformation, if not outright disinformation.

For example, this past Monday, February 4, the show facilitated the spread of misinformation and propaganda by the BOE, especially in regard to statements by WV AFT (American Federation of Teachers), and then on Tuesday, host Kay Murray turned right around and piled on. Let’s look at some of the details.

WV AFT asserts that the Monongalia County BOE hires too few teachers and too many non-classroom personnel, which contributes to Mon Schools’ deplorable second highest student-to-teacher ratio in the state. The classrooms are shamefully stuffed, packed, jammed. On Monday, WAJR host Kay Murray tried to learn from Superintendent Devono whether or not “levy” funds (the supplemental county school tax) are used to pay administrative salaries. Why does she ask this? Because people are understandably concerned whether or not county taxpayer dollars are being well used.

No, Devono replied, the state pays for administrative personnel, except for any days administrators might work beyond their contracted number of days (200/year). This is a nifty sleight of hand by the Superintendent worthy of any snake oil dealer, which completely dupes Kay Murray and virtually the entire listening audience, because the answer makes it sound as if (except for any overage days) the state pays for all Mon Schools administrators, as if NO county taxpayer funds are used to pay for entire administrative positions. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In fact, AFT’s informal financial audit of Mon Schools shows that Monongalia County school tax funds pay for the entire salaries of 20 non-classroom teacher personnel, many of them administrators (and for 2 classroom teachers) – apparently because these personnel are not certified for their positions. The salaries of these personnel total nearly 1.5 million dollars, and probably well over another half million in benefits. Thus, currently over $2 million per year in Mon county school tax dollars go to pay for administrative or non-classroom-teacher personnel positions. Whether or not that annual $2 million comes from the county schools excess levy or the regular county schools tax is totally irrelevant, because either way that’s over $2 million/year that could be going to improve the terrible student to teacher ratio, and/or toward paying for additional student activities, resources, even facilities. $2 million/year saved over a decade would more than pay for an entire new elementary school of substantial size, or could be used to employ nearly three dozen classroom teachers to help alleviate overcrowding in the most bursting at the seams classrooms.

Levy funds are Monongalia County taxpayer funds for schools, which supplement the regular county taxpayer funds for schools. The levy school tax and the regular school tax both tax county residents; both consist entirely of county tax dollars. By Superintendent Devono’s explaining in specific detail that county levy school tax funds do not go to administrators because the state pays for administrators, and by making no mention of any county support for the entirety of a lot of administrators and other non-classroom teacher personnel unqualified to receive state funds, and thereby implying that the state pays for all the administrative positions and the county for none, including the entire salary of Assistant Superintendent Rebecca Mattern, is to elide, is to totally cover up the fact that a massive amount of county school tax funds pay for school administrators and other non-classroom teachers, who happen to not be certified for their positions.

In fact, if we are to take Superintendent Devono at his word, then administrators could only work the 200 days per year paid for by the state, and not work any overage days if no excess levy were passed. After all, Kay was very specifically talking only about the excess levy. But that is surely not the case, and we cannot take Superintendent Devono at his word (big surprise). Surely regular county school tax funds can be used to pay administrator overage days just as these county tax funds pay for about $2 million worth of salaries and benefits for administrative and non-classroom teacher positions that the state would have paid for if only the County BOE had hired certified personnel. That is, if the Superintendent’s office hires appropriately, then it would allow the BOE to reduce the excess levy rate by about $2 million per year because of the freed up county funds. Or alternatively, those funds would allow the BOE to hire nearly three dozen classroom teachers to help address the scandalous overcrowding and the anti-educational student-teacher ratio in Monongalia County schools.

WAJR co-host Kay Murray hypocritically urged former Mayor of Morgantown and current most popular State Delegate Charlene Marshall to get both sides of the story regarding this week’s AFT presentation about Monongalia County administrative bloat. Kay Murray repeatedly urged Delegate Marshall to get “the other side” of the story, which Kay and Jim utterly fail to do on their show. Kay and Jim regularly host the three Mon Schools superintendents and listen to their side of various issues, and allow them to spread their information, misinformation, and disinformation. Kay and Jim and WAJR offer no similar platform to the AFT, the teachers organization, or for the service workers organization, to regularly present the facts and their views. Kay and Jim on their WAJR show are committed to regularly presenting only one side of the school issues: the administrative side. Thus the hypocrisy. Delegate Marshall has long since proven that she needs no urging to be objective on a wide range of issues, least of all from Kay Murray, hostess of the Mon Schools BOE propaganda hour.

In a future post, we’ll take a close look at the facts and the figures behind these issues – administrative negligence and waste, and mind-numbing student/teacher ratios – charts, tables, and further analysis. (See the now linked salary tables, charts, and post above.) And we’ll examine this past week’s outlandish, irresponsible, and negligent statements by Superintendent Devono. And we’ll consider the administrative-cozy school board that has been consistently ill-serving the teachers and students of Monongalia County. Pity the teachers that have to work under this administration, and under this school board. And pity the students.

In the meantime, it is highly instructive to listen to various State Delegates offer their views on these issues, following this past week’s AFT presentation to the delegates. The interviews of these delegates can be watched and listened to at the American Federation of Teachers Meeting video on Youtube. The quotes below are taken from these interviews. (Another excellent source for good information and valuable perspectives on these matters is the Facebook website of County Commissioner Tom Bloom.)

Marion County State Delegate Tim Manchin: “I was somewhat shocked to learn of some of the problems that we have with top heaviness in the school system, where we’re spending way too much money on administration and not enough money getting it into classrooms. You know, when we start showing increases in administrative personnel while our per pupil per teacher ratio is going up, there is something wrong with that scenario and we’ve got to figure out a way to turn that back around. Those were the two big points that I came out with.”

Monongalia County State Delegate Bob Beach: “My focus for this evening is obviously Monongalia County and that perception of being top heavy. And I believe the information they [AFT] shared with us tonight filled in those blanks that were missing for me before I came in here. I was actually only hearing one side of the equation, and this evening added that additional element that I needed to take back to Charleston, and be able to work through this, what I want to call a mess right now.”

There is a crying need for a large community push for better conditions in the schools for the students, and for the teachers: i.e., smaller class sizes, bigger and better classrooms and facilities, and more and better resources…and more teacher and community control of those resources, which means a never ending school board election campaign for what should amount to an essentially parent/teacher & service worker/community run school board, as opposed to the current administrator/superintendent run school board that has proven to be so contemptuous, so incapable, and so wrong.

*  *  *

A sample of salaries and recent raises of some Monongalia County Board of Education Central Office Administration and Personnel – those who do not work directly with students:

BOE Employee– Salary — Raise last year

Frank Devono — $152,000 — $6000

Becky Mattern — $119,975 — $12,710

Donna Talerico –$119,975 — $12,710

Tiffany Barnett — $74,022 — $5331

Sandy Devault — $92,571 — $5332

Louis Lhad — $94,090 — $4564

Nancy Napolillo — $91,038 — $5333

Irv Schuetzner — $85,671 — $4564

Rick Williams — $72,765 — $4029

Janet Ackerman — $54,950 — $2071

Paula Janis — $62,765 — $2855

Dan McGinnis — $81,071 — $5332

Terry Hawkins — $119,975 — $12,710

Beth Harvey — $46,996 — $2071

These 14 administrators and central office personnel received $85,612 in pay raises last year.

And now the plan is to hire another administrator at $85,000.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: