For most people the idea of being one’s own boss is an alluring if somewhat daunting proposition. With the freedom and self-responsibility come the risks – of freedom and self-responsibility.
So imagine the pleasant prospect of being your own boss, answering to nobody, and at the same time enjoying the safety of a government job with a regular paycheck and pretty good benefits. This is what Fullerton City Council woman Pam Keller gets by being the Executive Director of the Fullerton Collaborative and remaining an employee of the Fullerton School District. The people who print out her paychecks have no idea how she’s spending her time. She doesn’t answer to them. And the Collaborative Board seems to have shown very little interest in her doings, possibly because she’s actually in charge. Pretty sweet gig if you can get it.
The memorandum of understanding between the Collaborative and the school district lists a series of vague directives to be accomplished by the Executive Director through the school year. The two most specific of Pam’s duties are “assist schools to link with community partners for support services” and “increase awareness of schools regarding community services”.
So essentially her job is to communicate with schools. What does that entail? Fire off a couple of emails, make a phone call every once in a while? No, that would only consume a few minutes per day. There must be more to this $51,000-per-year job.
If we give her the benefit of the doubt, it’s likely that the achievement of these goals requires Pam to spend most of her workday meeting with teachers and parents, visiting schools and attending parent/teacher meetings.
Is that what she does? How much time does she spend with teachers and parents? What are her work hours? Since she really is only accountable to herself, does anyone else know?
Regular teachers must answer to parents, principals and ultimately the Superintendent. Who does a “teacher on special assignment”, funded by an outside organization, answer to? Does Superintendent Mitch Hovey appraise her performance? Could he take appropriate action if he didn’t think she was performing well? He certainly has no incentive to question her since the Collaborative pays her salary regardless.
Ultimately, we expect that the Fullerton School District will have to answer this question: Does the perverse nature of FSD’s employee arrangement with the Fullerton Collaborative cause harm to the public by diluting accountability and hiding conflicts of interest?