The Arlington Education Association, which represents 90 percent of the 1,200 teachers and teachers aides in the Arlington school system, has approved a vote of "no confidence" in school superintendent Larry Cuban and has demanded his resignation.
The resolution, approved at an association meeting attended by representatives from all but seven county schools, said Cuban's "callous and cavalier attitude" has resulted in a "decline in morale" which "will cause the deterioration of the Arlington schools."
Cuban, who has been superintendent of Arlington schools since 1974, said yesterday he would not comment on the resolution. School board members Mary Margaret Whipple and Ann Broder said yesterday they were "very surprised" at the association's action.
The association's resolution carries no sanctions or threats of a job action, said Marjorie Sale, executive director of the teacher group. "But we want him [Cuban] to know how profound our dissatisfaction is," she said.
About five years ago the teacher group passed a similar "no confidence" resolution against then-super-intendent Robert L. Chisholm, Sale said. "We're not aware of its effect on the school board at the time but we do know that within a short time Chisholm left," Sale said. Chisholm left the school system in 1974 to become superintendent of schools in Clover Park, Wash.
"We would like to change the superintendent's behavior and, if there is no change [to] tell him to look elsewhere for gainful employment," Sale said.
Cuban "seems deaf to our problem," she said. Since a Virginia State Supreme Court ruling three years ago that declared collective bargaining agreements between public employes and local governments illegal, the pay of Arlington teachers has fallen 12 percent below cost-of-living increases, she said.
Earlier this year, Cuban offered teachers in the county with more than 15 years experience a one-time payment of $625 and a 3.4 percent cost-of-living increase. "We were severely disgruntled with that proposal," Sale said.
At a recent session, board member Torril Floyd said Cuban's salary proposal "was for the birds." Floyd joined the four other board members last week in approving a salary increase of 6.5 percent for all school employes, an increase that has yet to be approved by the county board.
Nonetheless school board chairman Whipple said yesterday the board has "complete confidence in Cuban's leadership on budgetary matters and in the area of instruction. I just don't understand [the resolution]. Is their measure of leadership the salaries they get?"
Whipple said she has "no intention of discussing" the resolution at the board's Thursday meeting. "It seems in these times of financial troubles, the superintendent often becomes the focus of discontent," she said.
"They must remember that the ultimate funding for the school system comes from the county board," school board member Broder said. "The resolution makes no sense to me. I would question their choice of tactics."
Sale said Cuban "can draft all the pie-in-the-sky programs he wants and if it's not happening between the adult and the student in the classroom, they don't work. Teachers' feelings are now clouded by the perception that they will be paid less."
Sale said 25 percent of Arlington teachers supplement their salaries with coaching positions in the schools and another 25 percent are moonlighting with second jobs.