Briefing Book: Sandy’s fishing expedition

Welcome back! Here at Briefing Book, we hope you took some time over the vacation to take a well-deserved rest. Maybe you went to visit friends or relatives. Maybe you went skiing or maybe you went to some place warm instead. Or maybe you stayed home, relaxed, and took in a movie or two.

You know what did Sandy Grebinar did? She went fishing.

Ms. Grebinar, the indefatigable leader of our teachers’ union, apparently decided to take matters into her own hands after last month’s school board meeting, at which union leaders Geoff Curtis, Paul Saloom, and the rest of “The Gang That Couldn’t Ambush Straight” tried and failed to get the school board to dump schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Kreutzer. So just a few days after her colleagues flopped on their tenured faces, Ms. Grebinar decided to go fishing.

Ms. Grebinar filed no fewer than six Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) requests aimed at finding something — anything, really — that the teachers’ union could use to take down Dr. Kreutzer. She demanded copies of Dr. Kreutzer’s employment history, his résumé, and his curriculum vitae. She demanded his job application and all letters of reference that he submitted.

But Ms. Grebinar didn’t stop there — not our Sandy! She also demanded copies of all expenditures made by the school board to the search firm that helped select Dr. Kreutzer and copies of all expenditures the school board made to Syntax, the school board’s public relations firm. And she also wants copies of all communications among the school board, the superintendent search firm, and the members of the Governance Team.

Now, we have three reactions to Ms. Grebinar’s fishing trip. First, what is a “Governance Team” anyway? And why do we have one? If we already have a school board, what exactly is the Governance Team supposed to “govern”?

Our second reaction is to feel a bit sorry for Ms. Grebinar, who apparently has to take over the heavy lifting on the union’s Moby Dick-like obsession to get Dr. Kreutzer. It kind of reminds us, as most things do, of an old TV show — in this case the 1960s Batman TV series, when the Penguin would chastise his henchmen for botching the Penguin’s fine-feathered plans:

Penguin: Quack! You were supposed to read that letter at public comment period! What happened?

Henchmen: Sorry, Boss! Boss, the Caped Crusaders — Yeah, we didn’t know Batman was gonna show up!

Penguin: Quack! Don’t tell me about Batman, you fools! I sent you to get Kreutzer! (muttering) You want something done right, you have to do it yourself! Bring me the FOIL requests! Quack!

Our third, more serious reaction is that there’s a lot of information Sandy Grebinar didn’t ask for — information that’s a lot more relevant to taxpayers than what the BOE said to the Governance Team. Here is the information that Ms. Grebinar should be FOIL-ing for:

In 2003, enrollment in KLSD schools totaled 4,109 students. In 2013, enrollment in KLSD schools has dropped to 3,458 students, a drop of 16% in 10 years.

In 2003, we paid KLSD staff members $41 million in salaries. Ten years later, we are paying salaries of $58 million, an increase of 41% in 10 years.

In 2003, taxpayers shelled out $14 million to fund the cost of employee benefits for KLSD employees. In 2013, that number has more than doubled, to $32 million.

Oh, and the economy? Well, back in 2003, the economy was growing at a rate of 3.1%, unemployment was at 6% nationwide and at 6.4% in New York state. In 2013, the U.S. economy is growing at roughly 2% and unemployment is at 7.8% nationwide and at 8.3% in New York state.

So here it is in just four words for Ms. Grebinar — more spending, fewer kids. That’s the information Ms. Grebinar should be fishing for, and the fact that she isn’t sure seems fishy to us.

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  • Glenn DeFaber

    I have been hard on Sandy Grebinar for a number of years in regard to her union activity. I met her about 20 years ago while my children where in Middle School. My first impression of her was someone who was mad at the world and was looking to get even. I thought it was quite amusing with the language she used as it was not what I expected from an art teacher but rather the way men might speak in a bar.The revelation of Ms. Grebinar’s crusade to destroy Dr. Kreutzer with his family as collateral damage for the sake of enriching an organization is deplorable. Ms Grebinar is a far cry from Miss Crabtree.

  • Dean Travalino

    While I understand the humor here. I can’t really appreciate it. There is nothing funny about the union’s tactics, including having teachers dress in black and protest in front of elementary school students, the Wisconsin-like zoo that was Dr. Kreutzer’s first meeting with the school board, or the malicious campaign being waged against him now. And there is nothing funny about the continued intransigence of the union and the effects it will have on families that are already struggling financially and on the quality education in our district.

  • acorn

    Kreutzer came here with baggage.

  • Lewis Boro

    Wow acorn talk about baggage. I think your screen name tells where you are coming from.

  • acorn

    Well Mr. DeFaber,
    Do you find it acceptable that Kreutzer, the BOE, Hayes and Godin have deleteriously affected the life of Peterson and her young Black American son? They have made multiple false accusations, discriminated against her, now they are trying to bury the Child Abuse accusation amongst multiple other charges, confabulated reports of insubordination and damaged her good reputation. Is this acceptable to you? This fine employee had a stellar reputation and personnel file until the moment these individuals arrived on scene. How do you explain that?

    • Glenn DeFaber

      I never in my life would have thought that the Peanut Gallery of the Teachers union would drag race into their contract dispute. What does it matter the color of her child? Is another color more or less precious? How low can you go? All of these alleged accusations will be addressed in the proper venue, such as a court of law instead of the continued anonymous accusations. What is the Union going to do when a real person using their real name is forced to testify or give a sworn deposition under oath?
      If you have followed my letters and comments over the years you would see I have been no fan of the BOE. While I might not agree with their past decisions they have enough intelligence to see where K-L is headed. This was plainly revealed in the FACE report. Why can’t Sandy Grebinar and her minions see they are compensated at a level significantly higher than wealthier peer districts and their income has a non-sustainable growth rate?
      Your comments along with the rest of the brave anonymous bloggers are only hurting your cause to convince 60% of the electorate that your warped view of our district is correct. Wake up to the new reality of the 2% tax cap levy.
      Lastly I thought my comment of Sandy Grebinar was spot on. What about you?

  • Kevin Proskin

    Whoa. This district has maybe 2 African American/Black American instructional staff? Is that correct? And Kreutzer, Hayes, the BOE and Godin have slammed Peterson (one of these Black staff members) with false accusations? Have put her out of commission? Accused her of Child Abuse? and never did they investigate any of her multiple complaints that were written to Human Resources? Kreutzer – what were you thinking?

  • I assume Mr. Piro’s decision to characterize Ms. Grebinar’s work as a “fishing expedition” was intended as a play on words, given the red herring he hooked to the end of his piece.

    There is no need to FOIL the financials, that is all readily available through any number of public sources, including the district’s own website.

    I am beginning to feel a bit sorry for Mr. Piro. His relentless efforts to divert attention away from Ms. Grebinar’s sole objective, protecting district employees from harassment, may, in the long run, damage his own credibility.

    In the meantime, he may want to go back to his old high school Latin notes and look up “mea culpa.”

  • Hostile BOE

    So Mr. Piro,
    You and Kreutzer may stand alone soon. Mr. Kreutzer has been accused of: sexual Harrassment, age discrimination, violations of the ADA laws, failure to report Child Abuse, physical altercations with individuals, hostile behavior, screaming tirades that have frightened staff, absence of duty when he was out of the district during the storm, he may potentially be a racist attacking Peterson, failure to investigate reports made to the Human Resources office and retaliation that has caused a hostile work environment. Honestly, I can not recall an administrator with so many complaints wagered against him. In addition, the removal of Peterson from her position took place days after the district was served with the lawsuit. Interesting timing?

  • Dean Travalino

    These attacks by anonymous/fictitious bloggers are getting out of hand. Theft, bullying, child abuse, sexual harassment and now racism?

    I guess bestiality is next?

    Please cut out your puerile behavior, show the students you are teaching that you have the capacity to act like adults, and most importantly, show some compassion:

    – for students facing larger classes and less opportunities
    -for the younger teachers that will have to be let go
    -for taxpayers

  • Get along

    Yes, I agree that too many accusations are being thrown around by many without all the facts. The truths will and should come out, but through provable facts, in the appropriate arena. Also, as Dean states, students, younger teachers and taxpayers will pay the price if the teachers and the union leader don’t act respectfully and fairly. And my final thought… How do so many teachers, that constantly complain about how much they have to do in so little time, have the time to take personal calls, while teaching in the classroom? Unless it’s an emergency teachers, please handle your personal calls/emails/texts, etc. during your free time during the school day – give students the attention they deserve and our tax dollars pay for.

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