Financial Crisis Epilogue: Greed for Good

This is the final, four color comic process filter.  I'm very happy with it.  The words in the background are all things that we needed to run the school, but could not afford.

This is the final, four color comic process filter. I’m very happy with it. The words in the background are all things that we needed to run the school, but could not afford.

We actually got to a point where the school had no Toilet Paper, and could not afford to buy any more. There were several essentials on that list of things that we could not actually purchase, that we need to even function at all as a school:

-Pencils
-Paper
-Software Contracts
-Copier Maintenance
-Toner for copiers
-Hardware Maintenance
-Substitute Teachers

Those are just a few, but you can see how dire the list is. Pledge LA didn’t step forward to solve the problem, they just started an “investigation into budget improprieties,” and had all of our assets frozen. No one contacted the Fiscal Specialist from the District, who could unfreeze the assets, and resolve the debt.

Where did this hundred thousand dollar debt come from? Substitute teachers that were over the budget allocation for that line item, last year. You can’t have a class without a teacher, so the need for subs trumps the budget priorities. Normally, the district would handle the deficit.

ISIC is our part of LAUSD. That word, ISIC, stands for Intensive Support and Innovation Center.

Where is the Intensive Support, when this budget problem has been known about for months, since the beginning of August, but the Fiscal Specialist that is empowered to resolve it “mysteriously unavailable?” It is two months later, and the budget is of Doomsday status.

Cropped version of the final art.  Possible T-shirt or button.  Or iPad case...

Cropped version of the final art. Possible T-shirt or button. Or iPad case…

This was more or less dropped in my lap by me saying “enough is enough.” My co-teacher wrote an e-mail, and got a quick response, that did not result in a solution by a day later. I was irate with this, and as a result, made an irate phone call to ISIC’s Financial Guru. I identified myself as an English Teacher with a Problem, and was basically told to let the Big kids handle it.

I mentioned a couple of key words…”Williams Heath Complaint,” “Dereliction of Duty,” “Negligence,” and “meeting with the Superintendent next week.” I invited the Financial Guru to put me on hold while he thought hard about how he wanted me to spin his involvement in solving a financial problem that was hurting kids.

After a few minutes of hold music, I was told that I couldn’t make the appointment, because I wasn’t our school’s Money Darth. The story continues after the more raw color filter of today’s art, so keep scrolling…

This is much brighter before the 4 color filter.  Way brighter than the colored pencils themselves.

This is much brighter before the 4 color filter. Way brighter than the colored pencils themselves.

My reaction was pretty simple. I explained that I would tell Money Darth what to do as easily as I was telling him what to do, and the appointment should be at ten in the morning the following day. More hold music ensued.

When we got back to speaking, honesty ruled the day. Apparently, they were not prepared to meet the next day, because they had not actually started looking into it. They were content to let Pledge LA do so, even though Pledge LA has zero control over LAUSD budgets. I explained that I understood, and was filled with generosity…they could meet with Money Darth on our campus on Friday, at ten thirty. A twenty four and one half hour extension seemed the height of generosity to me.

This was agreed with, pretty much immediately.

For those interested in the process, the unfiltered color version.

For those interested in the process, the unfiltered color version.

Amazingly, the meeting lasted an hour and a half. People were puzzled that I wasn’t there, or my co-teacher, but apparently an administrator said simply, “don’t worry…they’re watching.” An hour and a half later, the debt was paid off, the financial Gordian Knot solved, and my school operating on the good side of the ledger again.

The sheer volume of people that get paid more than I do, who couldn’t make a rough phone call was bewildering to me. In the corporate world, these things would just be handled, and dealt with. Someone higher than a rank and file employee would just step in on it, and step in hard.

Instead, an English teacher pretended to be a Principal, Financial Specials, and Lawyer…by basically making a few hard phone calls from the car.

The original pencils.

The original pencils.

Obviously, the art is about greed. About every person holding onto the smallest part of their job, and the smallest part of their responsibilities. Doing the least they can. At the same time, those same staff members are scrambling for the most material assets, like hoarders. Toilet paper is now a commodity at our school…almost as in old movies about Soviet Russia.

Our English Chairperson resigned, as Chair, because she had “too much to do” with her STULL Evaluation and that. Upon getting that letter, which she e-mailed to everyone, I walked into the office and just TOOK the unfilled responsibility. Snatched it up like that.

A day later, that teacher went in and tried to “take back” her resignation. Very much a Larfleeze like “MINE!” moment.

This stuff…this is at the heart of what is broken about education.

The filtered pencils.  I don't always like the filter on straight pencils, but it is a neat variant here.

The filtered pencils. I don’t always like the filter on straight pencils, but it is a neat variant here.

In my personal life, I’ve been putting a lot of stuff in storage, and throwing away even more. Dumpsters full. As you do that, nostalgia, need, and simple avarice provide a moment of “MINE!” for many, many items. The art speaks to multiple facets of the last few days, True Believers…

Next: Gearing Up for Tool Site Council!

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