UPDATED with new information about who is doing ASTA President Grant Schuster’s job for him.

Teachers unions are the single most powerful entity in any public school district. The overwhelming majority of school board members in California owe their elections to teacher union endorsements and campaign funding.  As education reform advocates have noted for years, this enables teachers unions to, in most cases, dominate both sides of the bargaining table.

Most people probably think local teachers union presidents serve in that position in addition to their regular teaching duties. In fact, under something known as “released time,” they take a leave from their teaching jobs in order to devote themselves full-time to being union president – while still collecting their full salary and benefits. The district hires a substitute to fill the resulting vacancy until the union president returns to his or her job.

For example, the collective bargaining agreement between the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association (ASTA) and the Anaheim Union High School District contains a provision requiring the ASTA president – currently Grant Schuster – is provided released time for the duration of the contract, which runs through the 2020-2021 school year.

The current ASTA president is Grant Schuster, the athletic director at Dale Junior High School (whose principal is Lorena Moreno, wife of Councilman Jose F. Moreno).

According to the most recent data (2017) from Transparent California, Schuster is paid $115,682 in salary. When benefits are included, his total compensation is $148,652.

In other words, AUHSD taxpayers pay $148,652 a year for Schuster to negotiate to more taxpayers money, travel to Sacramento to lobby legislators against charter schools, and other political activities.

The agreement also requires ASTA to “reimburse the District for the cost of a long-term substitute.” Anaheim Blog e-mailed the district to inquire how much ASTA has reimbursed AUHSD.

UPDATED: Schuster’s “long-term substitute” as athletic director is Dale Jr. High School teacher Carolyn Torres. Torres is left-wing a political activist in Santa Ana where she organizes opposition to gang injunctions. Earlier this year, she applied unsuccessfully for appointment to a vacancy on the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education.

According to the AUHSD, the total cost for Mr. Torres’ salary and benefits for 2018-19 was $113,242.85.  So, while AUSHD taxpayers are paying $148,652 for Schuster to be a full-time union president, the union is reimbursing the district only $113,242.85 for a substitute. Taxpayers are making up the $35,409.15 difference to subsidize Mr. Schuster’s political and union activities.

“When Mr. Schuster was a teacher at the site, he served as athletic director, but in his role as ASTA president, he (no longer serves in this role and his replacement) is only responsible for representing his classroom position,” according to AUHSD spokesperson Patricia Karlak.

The ASTA president also has the right to return to the same school “in which s/he had been prior to serving as Association President.” If there’s no job opening at that school, then one is created by involuntarily transferring a teacher to a different school.