Eastern Sierra Unified not yet ready to put away boxing gloves

A proposal Wednesday to amend the troubled Eastern Sierra Unified School District’s superintendent’s employment contract met with resistance from two board members, but passed on a 3-2 vote.

The amendment was created to settle a “dispute” that arose when at least one member of the school board, Doug Northington, said he was concerned about how Superintendent Don Clark’s vacation days were being paid out to Clark.

The amendment “settled” the dispute by requiring Clark to take on some new duties, such as acting as the seventh and eighth grade football coach with no stipend, but it also made concessions to Clark, including allowing him 60 months to repay a housing loan instead of 12 months.

Prior to the emergency session of the school board, which also included a discussion about changing district boundaries for the purpose of busing, Northington told the MT he had serious concerns about the contract, and that he believed Clark had wrongly claimed too many days of vacation pay. Northington also said he did not believe he had had enough time to review the contract, that it did not solve the problems he was concerned about including rewriting confusing terms, and that he hoped the item could be tabled until at least next week.

Clark said Thursday that Northington had plenty of time in closed session to attend to Northington’s concerns about the contract. Clark said his interpretation of the vacation policy had not been challenged until these past few months, neither by Northington, nor by the Mono County Office of Education (to whom he submitted his requests for payment) during the entire time he worked for the district.

A vaguely worded contract clause was the cause of the confusion, he said.

Northington did not return phone calls before press time.

This is not the first time the two men have butted heads. Northington has been an outspoken critic of Clark throughout the past year as the district’s budget woes mounted.

Newly appointed board member Gabe Segura was the other member of the five-member school board who voted against the contract amendment. He did not return calls before press time.
Three board member seats are up for a vote this November.