I was in Peru over 10 years ago and there was a massive 8.0 earthquake. I watched the ground move under my feet like a wave on the sea. Earthquakes are awe inspiring and devastating at the same time. After that earthquake we went to villages hours away where the epic-center was and the homes were made out of mud bricks, they weren't built to withstand that kind of force and they crumbled under it taking with them countless lives.
While the situation that our city is facing today with the CRUSHD school board is in no way as serious as a real earthquake I believe the parallel can clearly be seen.
There is so much controversy I like to ask...WHY?
Why has the school board had two people resign in the last two years (Donna Williamson who had served 2 out of her 4 years, and Pat Young, and educator for 20+ years in our district who resigned after 3 years of his 4 year term) and the longest serving member Lori Crampton wanting to leave? The people that run and serve on the school board don't get any monetary compensation, or insurance. They SERVE the schools that they represent, the staff and students. So why has there been so much turn over?
Covid has been hard on everyone, but specifically on teachers, students and parents. So why is the board not renewing contracts of highly qualified key staff members especially when they don't have a certified Superintendent? You need someone who understands the complexity of running a complex school district with the Fieldhouse.
Let's talk about Ed Catalfamo, He took a pay cut to work at the Field house starting at $90,000 a year but he declined all his benefits which totals $12,000 a year because he didn't need it. Ed has worked as head coach for the Barracuda's Swim team for 20 years. The school board did a nationwide recruiting. They hired someone for $85,000 from Texas but it wasn't a good fit and he didn't work out. There was another search no one with the qualifications would come for less than $110,000. Ed applied for that position and took it for the 90K. That may sound like A LOT of money for our area, but if you were to divide it by the amount of hours that he is working a week which is 70-80 hours he is making less than minimum wage, about $12 an hour.
The Fieldhouse is a VERY contentious issue in our town, but much like Epcor it was a close vote by the people, but it was a vote by the people. It is here and even though there was a HUGE $100,000 descripency that was found last year. Ed and his only other employee Joleen Stein have been working this entire year through all of the covid restrictions to make it as successful as possible.
He has projected that by the end of the year that the fieldhouse will be in the black and will have recovered that $100,000. For the last three months the fieldhouse has been in the black because Ed has been working to make than happen.
I reached out to Pat Young former Board member,
"The board became toxic, there were a number of members that created a negative environment. Most of them knew very little about education law. Our district's attorney's tried to educate a certain member of the board, but he wouldn't listen, he fought them, and in the end he fired them. To my knowledge he has never gone to any board member trainings, and is flying by the seat of his pants and it shows. I believe many of the board members have their own personal agendas.
Ed Catalfamo is an incredible asset and has done a wonderful job keeping the fieldhouse above water during covid. It is pure ignorance for the school board to let him go. I am surprised that board member Lori Crampton hasn't resigned sooner." (Former CRUSHD Board member Pat Young - MHS Teacher for 5 years, BHC Elem Assistant Superintendent for 2 years, BHC Jr. High Principal 12+ years)
I also spoke with Carey Fearing who was elected to the school board this last year. Here is some of what she had to say,
I asked why at the termination of Monday's school board meeting it was stated "No action needed" and then Ed got the letter that we have all seen that his contract wouldn't be renewed? Why if that decision was already made wasn't it just stated then at the end of the last meeting? She said,"The meeting on Monday night was just a follow up to a meeting that was had been held in February and that the letter was merely a formality. The fact that people have shared this letter all over social media has misconstrued what actually happened." When I pressed her as to why they didn't announce it Monday night she said, "We didn't want a hostile situation, we didn't want to make a scene."
When I asked what were some of the reasons that they wouldn't be renewing Ed's contract she said, "That is something that I can't discuss because it was in executive session."
When I asked her about Board member Lori Crampton she said, "I hope that she doesn't step down. Sometimes it can be too much for people to take and that her and Lori don't see eye to eye on 95% of things, but everyone is to blame for the hostility." When I asked about her taking Lori's position on the Health Care Advisory Board she said, "There has been a change in leadership on that board in 7 years and that there was gross oversight. There is a laundry list of problems that were uncovered, and all I am doing is asking questions."
"Just because you are outvoted doesn't mean that you should leave. Richard Cardone was outvoted several times and he didn't leave. It's not personal." She reiterated that several times throughout our conversation.
What do you think about the fact that there is no one on the board with any educational background? She said, "I don't think it's a detriment that we don't have anyone who hasn’t been in education." I then asked her who she thinks might replace Lori if she decides to resign? I pointed out perhaps Patricia Anchondo who ran last election as a write in and only lost by 12-14 votes. She said, "I hope Lori doesn't step down, she has the most experience and even though we may disagree she brings more than 10 years experience of being on the board."
Lastly she said,"Every decision that is made is made for the best interest of the district. This is a business and it needs to be run that way. It isn't personal it is business."
Although many people may disagree with her that this is much more than business in a small town, it is hard to have things so black and white. So where do we go from here? Tonight's emergency board meeting is going to be held in a classroom at Mohave High School because all of the rooms at the fieldhouse are rented out tonight. (irony)
There is NO call to the public, they may submit little pieces of paper with their questions or concerns. The meeting will be called to order at 5:00 and then the board members may speak, there may be possible action, or they may move into executive session.
I think that we all need to wake up and start asking more questions. Why is all of this happening and if there are such big problems how are they being dealt with? Did they tell Ed their concerns and see if they could work together to come to some sort of agreement and move forward? I don't know. But it looks like the decision has already been made. Earthquakes are powerful, but even in the midst of them you know that you either have to rebuild what is left or tear it down and start over.
**I am not a reporter and Family Fun Night is in one hour, but I felt like these were conversations that needed to be had and that the public has a right to know. Together we can Make Bullhead Better, but we have to find a way to come together as a community. #communityovercompetition