By Victor Skinner
TRINADAD, Colo. – The school district budget battle in a Colorado community has reportedly gotten so bad that a local woman was arrested for phoning in a death threat against the superintendent.
Helen Cordova faces multiple misdemeanor charges after she allegedly called Trinidad district superintendent Manuel Rodriguez’s office and told his secretary that “Your superintendent is being watched at all times. He is really being watched and is going to be shot,” KKTV.com reports.
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The caller then hung up and did not answer when the school secretary called back. Police obtained a search warrant and worked with the phone company to track the call to Cordova, 65, whose spouse works for the district.
The threat reportedly spawned from a disagreement between the teachers union and Superintendent Rodriguez regarding next year’s budget. The district has been losing students over the past few years and need to cut about $383,000 in spending to balance the 2012-13 budget, the Trinidad Times reports.
Rodriguez has mentioned the possibility of layoffs, different uses for district buildings or reopening the teachers union contract to find the necessary savings. He pointed out that most of the district’s expenses are tied to staff salaries and benefits, and failure to make spending cuts would exhaust the district’s reserve fund.
The idea of cutting labor costs obviously didn’t sit well with the union.
The Trinidad Education Association, the Colorado Education Association and a community group working with the unions are demanding Rodriguez’ resignation by May 8, and have vowed to recall the local school board president and vice president if he doesn’t resign.
Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time that union officials in various communities have whipped local residents into frenzy over budget cuts with doomsday predictions about how the changes will impact teachers and students.
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Teachers unions have learned that creating a crisis is an effective way of impassioning followers, and we suspect it will only be a matter of time until another lost soul takes it too far.
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