And Ervin Jackson, the district's administrator for human relations, affirmative action and Title IX compliance, said Giugni had improved efficiency by reorganizing the district administration, shown fiscal responsibility by keeping a balanced budget and hired a lot of minority administrators. In addition, he said, Giugni had improved academic programs and made major strides in dealing with the district's growing ethnic diversity.
"He's an amazing individual," Jackson said. "Long Beach will profit tremendously from the experience he picked up here."
Long Beach board members say there are many similarities between the two districts that initially attracted them to Giugni. Both districts, they say, are experiencing rapid demographic changes, particularly in the ethnic makeup of their students. And both are dealing with increasing enrollments.
"He's a very experienced superintendent," said Long Beach board member James Zarifes. "I think we're getting a real bonus (in that) he has lots of experience with the legislators in Sacramento. And he's interested in curriculum more than in business."
Board member Harriet Williams said that although she had some initial concerns regarding Giugni's relations with the Sacramento teachers union, they were overcome by other strengths.
Keeping Open Mind
"Unless we had a real sense that he cared a lot about the classroom teacher, we would not have offered him the job," Williams said.
Giugni said he is coming to Long Beach with an open mind. But among his first priorities, he said, will be dealing with the problems of growth and developing "strong cooperative agreements" with other public agencies such as the City of Long Beach. Recently the city and the school district have engaged in a running legal and verbal battle over the financing of classrooms made necessary by new developments.
"I consider Long Beach a very good district and I want to maintain the level of achievement they are providing and build on it," Giugni said.
Regarding the impasse between the Long Beach district and the local teachers union, he said, "It has to be considered part of the process. I think that, over the years, my record has been very good with teachers."
Union members, who rejected the district's last offer of a 6% increase, say they were disappointed that the offer did not mention binding arbitration and reduction in class size--which the union wants--or the involuntary transfer of teachers within the district, which the union opposes.
Long Beach teachers currently earn $19,749 to start, gradually rising to $36,985 for teachers with master's degrees and 24 years' experience. Under the district's last proposal, salaries for beginning teachers would go to $20,600 a year, with experienced teachers earning $39,155 a year. The union has proposed salaries of $22,349 and $42,397, respectively.
Union leaders say they have contacted the Public Employee Relations Board in Los Angeles to request that an impasse be declared. If the board agrees with that determination, a spokesman said, a mediator will be assigned within five days to propose a solution to the impasse.