BEAVERTON, Ore. – Twelve-year-old Everett Johnsen dropped a baseball on the floor as he approached the Beaverton school board on Monday night.
“Oops, dropped the ball,” he said. “I guess it’s a common practice in this building.”
Johnsen and his father, Chris, finally got their chance to go head-to-head with Beaverton School District superintendent Jeff Rose on Monday night.
Chris Johnsen has been on a one-man crusade against Rose’s $8,000 raise since it was unanimously approved by the school board last month. He started a Facebook page opposing the bump, which brings Rose’s salary to $193,000 a year.
On Monday, he and Everett confronted Rose at a school-board meeting.
“We still have to share text books,” Everett Johnsen said to Rose on Monday. “And you still got a raise.”
Chris Johnsen brought a prop of his own – a $30 textbook he said he had to buy out-of-pocket from eBay so his son could do his homework at home.
“I think you should donate that $8,000 back to the general fund,” Chris Johnsen said. “Make a stand, say ‘we’re not passing our kids, we’re not making them do what they need to do.’”
Board chair LeeAnn Larsen said the offer was made with the board “fully expecting” Rose would accept the raise in its entirety.
Larsen said Monday that, in addition to leading the district through a particularly difficult budgetary period, Rose has made “generous personal donations” to the district during his tenure.
“It is personal and private of course,” she told KATU on Tuesday morning. “I know that one of the things that he has done is provided several scholarships personally out of his own pocket for college-bound kids. Usually they tend to be disadvantaged kids.”
Rose confirmed to KATU that he does make various donations to the school district, including the scholarships, but didn’t want to disclose the exact amounts or recipients.
“I don’t make contributions to gain any sort of political will,” Rose said Tuesday morning. “Even if I could describe my contributions and it would help people feel better about me, I would not because that’s not who I am.
“I do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not to make others feel better about me.”
Rose’s raise comes from the district’s $300 million operating budget, not from the levy that was recently passed by voters.
Chris Johnsen was unswayed by the news of Rose's donations.
"If he was generously giving his money, that's still money the district's giving him, and the district’s still failing," he said on Tuesday morning. "He should not have received that money in the first place.
"I've donated plenty of money to the school district over the 13 years I've been here. What he's done still doesn't qualify him for getting the raise."
The school board issued a statement saying they don’t expect Rose to turn down the raise.
Rose said it’s been a tough month for him personally, and that he’s relied on a quote from former UCLA coach John Wooden as he’s faced criticism over the raise.
“I try to be more concerned with my character than my reputation,” he said. “My reputation is merely what others think about me. My character is who I really am.”