Parents run down Brown

After four years of evaluations with nary a peep from the community, a semi-organized group is bombarding the Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees with feedback about the superintendent.

And it’s not good.

Superintendent Scott Brown is due for his annual evaluation, during which trustees gauge how he’s performed in areas ranging from media relations to his handling of the budget. Even with a special, closed-session meeting scheduled for July 27, board President Steve O’Bryan said it will still be a while before the process is complete.

Dan Irving, a parent who opposed the board’s recent reassignment of former Marsh Junior High School Principal Jeff Sloan, said Brown and the board “dismantled” the school based on lies and urged incumbent trustees O’Bryan and Rick Anderson not to run for re-election in November.

“There are some very angry people,” Irving warned.

Another parent, who wanted a citizens’ committee appointed to evaluate the superintendent, accused Brown of being “extremely rude and sarcastic to Jeff Sloan” and of ordering student artwork removed from the Marsh school sign “just to mark his territory.”

Speakers also continued to hammer Brown for dining on pricey food and wine while traveling on CUSD business—even though he paid for the alcohol and meal up front on his personal credit card and was reimbursed the usual per-diem amount by the district.

A bit of praise came to Brown from Eileen Robinson, retired CUSD employee, former classified employees’ union president and failed school board candidate. She also served on the committee that hired Brown and said he’s done a lot to mend strained relationships between employee groups and district administration.

“Leaders do not have to be popular, but they do have to be competent, and I do believe Dr. Brown is,” said Robinson, adding that the reassignment of Sloan was “long overdue.”

Brown came to the CUSD with a history of angering people on different sides of volatile community issues, and many agree he can tend toward the sarcastic, but it wasn’t until he supported an investigation of Sloan’s handling of student body funds that he found himself on the wrong side of angry parents in Chico.

Usually, the annual evaluation comes with a contract renewal and raise, but last year Brown opted not to seek a pay increase, citing cuts to programs and personnel and the lack of cost-of-living raises given to any employee groups. Brown, who started in July 1999 at $115,000 a year, plus a $6,000-a-year car allowance, now makes $131,187.