Improving Student Outcomes Should Be Job 1 at Tam Union

Improving Student Outcomes
Should Be Job 1 at Tam Union

Implement Merit Based Superintendent Pay

Pause Spending on Projects
that Aren’t Yet Voter-Approved

Trim Plans for 2024 Bond Measure
Costing Taxpayers Over $1 Billion

At its August 8 meeting, Tamalpais Union High School District’s trustees are set to approve a new 3-year contract and an 8-year salary schedule for the district’s superintendent, Dr. Tara Taupier.  Base salary in the current year (step 2) would start at $286,633, reaching $342,255 in step year 8 “provided she has earned an overall satisfactory annual evaluation.”  In recent years Taupier’s total compensation was boosted another 31% by pension and healthcare benefits and “other income”.  This suggests that under the proposed salary schedule Taupier’s total compensation will be around $375,00 in the current school year and $448,000 in the final year.

CO$T believes that school superintendents’ long-term pay trajectory should be tied to meeting specific performance targets, consistent with sound management practices.

The learning and opportunity gap between socio-economically advantaged whites and other students is significant at TUHSD (which includes Redwood, Tamalpais and Archie Williams high schools).  This shows up in a variety of metrics shown on pages 9-22 of the district’s 2023  LCAP  (an annual document filing required by the state).    Recent years’ trends are not encouraging.  Meaningful progress on closing the achievement gap would be a very worthy goal.

Meanwhile,  the district has moved unrestricted dollars (that could be used for teaching and student support) to its capital fund to pay for advance work on a major overhaul of the district’s facilities.  Tam Union trustees already approved  spending $5 million for architects and $422,00 for a solar project consultant.  This money is being spent in advance of Tam Union District voters deciding whether to tax themselves over $1 billion to fund the projects and bond interest. That’s a heck of a lot of money.  If voters reject the proposed March 2024 bond measure,  the money spent on architects, consultants and the like can’t be recovered and used to bolster student  outcomes.

TUHSD’s polling (paid for with our tax dollars to test which promises and arguments maximize voter support) shows that voters may pass the tax measure by a small margin IF the ballot language prominently features capital projects that update science and computer labs and fix leaky roofs. In fact, one of the two most expensive projects using the bond measure proceeds replaces the cafeteria at Redwood for $42 million.

CO$T urges TUHSD’s trustees to (1)Reject the proposed eight-year salary schedule until they can tie it to goals that improve student outcomes and (2)Cease approving new contracts, cost overruns and other payments related to capital projects until the bond measure is approved by voters (3)Downsize the contemplated bond measure and refocus it on projects most likely to improve student outcomes and preparedness for post high school endeavors.

Improving Student Outcomes Should Be Job 1 at Tam Union