LONG BEACH — The Unified School District's top candidate for superintendent has accepted a contract offer and is awaiting formal action from the school board, expected to be taken at a special meeting today.
The proposed hiring of E. Tom Giugni, who has received harsh criticism from the teachers union he has worked with for six years in Sacramento, immediately drew criticism from the executive director of the Teachers Assn. of Long Beach.
"It made the teachers angry," said Shirley Guy, executive director of the Long Beach teachers union. "They feel like the board has chosen someone who has had a bad working relationship with teachers."
Don Goddard, union president, took a more cautious approach. "I'm trying to . . . give him as much credit as possible," said Goddard. "Let's just find out what happens."
Giugni, 54, who heads the Sacramento City Unified School District, was offered the Long Beach job last week after a five-month nationwide search that included some 200 candidates. After considering the offer over the Thanksgiving weekend, Giugni accepted and on Monday night was tentatively released from his contract in Sacramento, effective Feb. 1.
But the move won't become final, according to Arlene Soloman, president of the Long Beach Board of Education, until the board takes formal action at a special meeting set for 4:30 p.m. today.
School district sources said the new superintendent would be paid "in the vicinity" of $88,000 a year to fill the post vacated by Francis Laufenberg, who retired in July. Laufenberg's annual salary was $78,000. Giugni currently makes about $70,000.
"He seems to have the facility to bring the educational leadership that Long Beach needs right now," Soloman said of Giugni, a native of St. Helena, Calif., who holds a doctorate in education from Florida's Nova University.
"He has very good rapport with people and we're looking forward to having him involved in the city. His expertise will speak for itself."
But Guy, whose union last week declared an impasse after nearly seven months of negotiations with the district on a new contract for Long Beach's 2,850 teachers, said she had serious doubts about the new superintendent-to-be's ability to deal with local labor problems, especially because of criticism that has been leveled by the president of the teachers union in Sacramento, which has about 21,000 fewer students than the 64,000-student Long Beach district.
Jim Harlan, president of the Sacramento City Teachers Assn., said relations between teachers and Giugni have been rocky.
Relations 'Extremely Strained'
"We have a superintendent who, if he does not agree with what's in a contract, will just go out and change it," said Harlan, whose group represents about 2,400 teachers. "(Our relationship) has been extremely strained."
Harlan said that during the last school year, 692 grievances were filed by teachers against the district, largely due to what he described as Giugni's intransigence. In Long Beach during the same period, according to local district records, 20 grievances were filed.
"He's the main reason we've had . . . labor problems," Harlan said of the Sacramento superintendent. "I would not want to wish Tom Giugni on the (Teachers Assn. of Long Beach), but in order to get rid of him I would wish him on any other school district."
Giugni confirmed that a large number of grievances were filed against his district last year but said they largely pertained to the same four or five issues--including length of the instructional day and the order in which teachers are hired--and were greatly encouraged by Harlan. "Obviously we have disagreements," Giugni said. "(But) in our opinion, we have not violated the contract. The (teachers) association actually went out and encouraged members to file grievances."
According to Ron Morgan, administrator of community and employee relations for the Sacramento district, only 12 grievances were filed against the district in 1983-84, the year before Harlan took over as union president. And of those filed last year, he said, about 35% were ultimately decided in favor of the complainant. (Harlan disagrees, putting the number at 75%.)
Praise From Colleagues
From colleagues outside the union, Giugni gets high marks.
Elinor L. Hickey, president of the Sacramento Board of Education, called him the "most outstanding superintendent we've had" in her 20 years as a teacher and board member in the district. "He knew his job," she said. "He always had the interests of the students at heart. Through his guidance, we have become leaders in education rather than just another district; the quality of education has been improved immeasurably."