Here are the highlights of the Dec. 11 SDUSD School Board meeting (for more detail, read below):
- School Board approves 2013-14 preliminary budget showing $55 million in layoffs this spring and NO pay increases through July 2014.
- Board talks about VEBA and family coverage costs. New SDEA-endorsed Board member Marne Foster says, “We can’t sustain it. We have to have a conversation about it.”
- Board votes unanimously to bring 25 uncredentialed Teach For America teachers to our District.
- Board approves administrative raises, with more to come.
Note: I have included the points in time on the School Board video where many of the referenced comments occurred, and encourage you to view the video yourself HERE.
Board Approves 2013-14 Budget with NO Raise Restorations, $55 Million in Layoffs
Before the School Board meeting, a few teachers and I had the opportunity to speak with School Board member Kevin Beiser as he stood outside. We asked about the bargained 2% pay raise in January that SDEA members are supposed to get now that Prop. 30 has passed. He made it abundantly clear that he believes that the passage of Prop. 30 only meant that the District was able to cancel 14 of the planned 19 furlough days and that there was absolutely no money available for any pay increases for teachers.
This was reaffirmed by the whole Board when I spoke during the public comments about the budget. When I mentioned that teachers thought that the passage of Prop. 30 meant that we would be receiving a 2% pay increase in January, almost everyone sitting on the stage looked at me like I had spiders crawling out of my nose and started shaking their heads no. So if you were planning on doing a little extra shopping this holiday season because you think your paychecks might get a little bigger next year, I encourage you to reconsider.
While talking about the budget [starts 227:00ish], Board member Scott Barnett said, “These first interims become the freight train… We’re talking probably $50 million in layoffs under this scenario and this Board has not and continues to not plan ahead. We could have started discussions in June over ‘what if’ scenarios come next year. Hopefully we’ll get more money in from the state. What I’m hearing is maybe another $500 and that would be $40 million in the hole. So, once again, we had opportunities in the budget to start planning ahead… this… we knew in June that this $80 million hole was here. I mean, this is what we talked about. When the TA was agreed, with the unions, they all knew and there should be no surprise that that [$80 million deficit] was there. But my concern was that we keep waiting for things to happen to us instead of proactively trying to look at other ways to solve the problem.”
Given that there seems to be absolutely no indication whatsoever from SDUSD that there is even the slimmest chance that educators will see a 2% pay increase anytime before July 2014, let alone in January next month, why is current SDEA leadership still trying to convince us that this is possible? They even included it in this month’s SDEA Advocate in the article “What the Prop. 30 Victory Means for Our Members.” The article states:
“The June 2013 agreement contains the following language that is tied to the passage of Prop. 30:
• Deferred raises are paid back. There will be an up to 2% raise effective Jan. 1, 2013 tied to increased BRL/ADA (Base Revenue Limit per Average Daily Attendance), based on a contractual formula. The remaining 2% and 3% raises are implemented as money comes in, but in no case later than July 1, 2014.”
Nothing in this language ensures that anyone will see a raise prior to July 2014.
While Foster and Barnett voted against the preliminary budget, it passed 3-2, with Board members Richard Barrera, John Lee Evans and Beiser voting for it.
View commentary from Shane Parmely and Michelle Sanchez who spoke out against this budget, HERE.
Board Has Alarming Conversation about VEBA and Our Healthcare
Agenda Item: Board Direction to Staff Regarding Options and Process for Employee Health Benefits [Start 229:30ish, End 260:17ish]
Any time the District starts talking about our healthcare, we need to pay attention. Currently, the District is investigating if there is a less expensive option than VEBA. It was the end of the conversation that really made my ears perk up.
Evans [259:16ish]: “And what you said about do we have a problem? I mean, the only problem that we have that is very clear is that we spend a LOT of money on healthcare. We don’t know if we’re spending too much, we’re certainly not spending too little. But that’s why it’s worth investigating and for the public to really know that we’ve really looked at this, too.”
Deputy Superintendent of Business Phil Stover [258:44ish]: “I would like to clarify one thing. The variable is not so much the size of the District as it is the number of people covered under the plan. And we have 35,000 people covered of the VEBA population and my only reason for pointing that out is and it may be, but I don’t know, but it may be that because we pay 100% for the whole family, we have a higher number of people covered per employees than other districts do and that could be a variable as well but that’s the kind of thing we would want this person to look at because we do represent almost 35-40% of the VEBA pool.”
Foster [259:20ish]: “I certainly feel that it’s um… we have to explore it. I mean my understanding is that we are operating on $.08 of a dollar and healthcare is the second largest amount of this and with it increasing every year we can’t sustain it. So we have to explore and we have to uh, you know… we have to have a conversation about it.”
Aside from me wondering if I’m going to help the District balance its budget again by taking another pay cut in the form of losing healthcare coverage for my children, I’m also left wondering what Marne Foster means when she says our District is operating on $.08 of a dollar.
All five Board members voted to approve money to be spent to research if SDUSD can save money on health insurance by leaving VEBA.
Board Unanimously Approves Teach For America, Ignores SDEA Protest
All five SDEA-endorsed School Board members voted to earmark 25 teaching positions for Teach For America fellows next school year. While promises were made that TFA participants won’t “displace current staff” and will only “fill open budgeted positions,” this still means that 25 teaching jobs will be offered to a recent college graduate with only 5 weeks of “intensive” teacher training before these teaching positions will be offered to the fully credentialed teacher that just finished doing her student-teaching at your school. And where does this leave all of the fully credentialed teachers currently teaching in our schools on year-long temporary contracts? Comments were made about how our currently hired teachers will be taken care of first. I’ll believe it when I see it. While there is a shortage of, for example, chemistry teachers in our district, nowhere in the agreement does it say that the TFA fellows must teach certain subjects. We could end up with 25 TFA elementary teachers.
Just before the TFA part of the agenda, the SDUSD Board also unanimously passed a resolution to actively recruit local students to go to college and return to San Diego and teach. This is a measure that SDEA supports. Who wouldn’t want to encourage local kids to come back and teach? Kind of a no-brainer really. [148:39] Evans had this to say about it [149:27]: “I think the exciting thing about this is the participation of SDEA. And there are people in different organizations whether it’s management or on the union side or whatever who do not believe that collaboration is a good thing. And I want to congratulate SDEA for being willing to collaborate with the management for something that we are mutually concerned about which is the education of our children and this is a really exciting step forward.”
Aside from this being ridiculously condescending (do we really need to be congratulated for encouraging students to become teachers?), Evans is leaving out the fact that last time our union and the District “collaborated” we all ended up bargaining up to 19 furlough days on top of a 7.16% pay cut.
Superintendents Consent Agenda Includes Raises for District Staff and Lead Principal
[301:15] Kevin Beiser pulled several items from the Superintendent’s Consent Agenda (items that get approved as a block with no discussion) because they would approve extra expenses.
E.14 [304:40] Beiser pulled this item because he wanted to draw attention to the fact that it would approve $20,000 in pay raises without identifying a funding source. He mentioned two raises specifically: $6,000 would be for a pay raise for a Lead Principal (currently, only Lincoln HS has a Lead Principal), and someone in Human Resources would get almost an additional $6,000. He expressed his frustration that these pay increases are being slipped into the Consent Agenda instead of budgeting for them and identifying from where the money will come.
Stover told Board members that they will be seeing an enormous amount of requests for job reclassifications (which includes a pay raise) because so many people believe (and probably rightly so) that they have been “working out of class” this past year. Claims have to be filed by November which means hundreds of these requests will be voted on by the Board in the coming months. Discussion revolved around why people are being allowed to work out of class to begin with. I think HR Chief Lamont Jackson answered this question best by explaining how layoffs create an astronomical amount of extra work for his department which, resulted in the person in HR working out of class. And that’s probably true for everyone else filing for a job reclassification because when positions are cut, the work doesn’t disappear with the position and someone has to do it. It will be interesting to see how many administrative raises the SDUSD Board approves in the coming months. (My prediction: Our 2% raise won’t be approved along with them.)
The vote on the Lead Principal raise was postponed, but the Board approved the rest of the administrative raises 4-1 with only Beiser voting no.
The next regularly scheduled SDUSD Board meeting is Jan. 8.
— by Shane Parmely, Twain/Garfield CR