Parking lot attendant Ron Agoglia is an outspoken man.
A former worker for the phone company in New York City and a former school board member in Brooklyn, Agoglia knows a few things about managing a school and school policy.
Even so, Agoglia’s contract to patrol Mingus Union High School parking lots will not be renewed next year, making Agoglia a high profile victim of the district’s planned $300,000 in budget cuts.
The decision to let Agoglia go was protested by Agoglia and his supporters during the public comment portion of the Thursday, May 8, Mingus Union School District’s school board meeting.
During an interview after the meeting, MUHS Superintendant Scott Dunsmore said the decision not to renew Agoglia’s contract was simply part of an overall “reduction in force” underway at the district.
Parking lot fees, paid by students, go into the district’s general fund.
Agoglia’s salary is paid out of that fund. Total parking lot fees collected, however, will not cover the cost of two parking lot attendants, one full time and one part time, Dunsmore said.
Dunsmore could not say exactly how much the district will save by laying Agoglia off.
According to Agoglia, tension between himself and Dunsmore started at the board meeting in March when Agoglia openly contradicted the superintendent about how the new closed campus policy was working.
The school board voted to close the campus earlier this year, but then decided April 10 to open the campus again for the 2008-09 school year.
The policy currently prohibits students from driving off campus, though they can leave on foot.
To get around the policy, Agoglia said students overload the few cars given lunch passes by cramming up to five teens in backseats. Students who leave campus for lunch during the day often jaywalk or walk out in front of moving traffic on Fir Street and Hwy. 260, Agoglia said.
The goal of the closed campus policy was to make the students safer, but it has actually placed them in more danger, Agoglia claimed.
If getting rid of his job is not a part of the overall budget cuts, Agoglia said he felt it was retaliation for his open disagreement with Dunsmore’s policies and actions.
“People are afraid of the school board, even the parents. I’m pretty much the only one who raises the issue to the board because the teachers are afraid of losing their jobs,” Agoglia said.
He claimed the actions of Dunsmore and the board have fostered a hostile working environment which is scaring everyone, out of fear of losing their jobs if they speak out.
Parking lot attendant Roger Stoddard spoke up for Agoglia at the May 8 board meeting. Together, he and Agoglia were able to get the parking lot under control, running off drug users and dropouts who hung around the school. He and Agoglia made MUHS safer for students and teachers, Stoddard said.
Without Agoglia, the parking lot will return to the way it was, Stoddard said.
“Please, let me keep my job,” Agoglia asked the board.
The applause in response was long, loud, vocal and unrestrained. Two people shouted out, “That-a-boy, Ron” and “God bless you, Ron.”
After the meeting, Dunsmore downplayed public sentiment expressed in favor of Agoglia during the meeting, explaining that people who show up are not a true representation of the entire community.