by Jenny Rivera, Dailard AR and SDEA Board Member-elect and Michelle Sanchez, Garfield CR and CTA Delegate-elect
On Wednesday, April 25, we attended the third and final budget hearing before our SDEA budget is presented to Rep. Council for a vote. SDEA Treasurer Manuel Gomez and former SDEA Board member Kisha Borden presented the budget.
It was gratifying to note that several suggestions from the previous two budget meetings were incorporated into this third discussion. One of those suggestions was to provide a pie graph of budget expenditures comparing this year and last year. The pie graph suggestion, from the first meeting, really helped to provide a clearer picture of where money was being spent. We could also see, from spreadsheets, a more detailed breakdown of expenditures.
Several questions from members were brought to the table. Answers were not always available from the budget committee. A question that many members would still like to see answered with hard figures is whether or not our union president has taken furlough days like the rest of SDEA has. We were told that his current salary includes the furloughs, but we don’t have access to the information we need to verify this. It would be very easy to calculate.
Per SDEA’s governance documents, the President is paid for 248 workdays. That means if the President is taking five furloughs, he or she would be paid for 243 workdays. SDEA’s budget already shows Bill Freeman’s total annual salary for the past three years (the furlough years). Oddly, his budgeted salary dropped this past year, indicating that he might be taking furloughs for the first time this year. But even more oddly, his projected actual year-end salary is several thousand dollars greater than what was budgeted, perhaps indicating that it was budgeted for him to take furlough days for the first time, but he didn’t after all. It would be incredibly easy for SDEA to simply tell us what step and column Freeman is on, so we can calculate for ourselves whether or not he has been taking the furlough days, and put the issue to rest once and for all.
We also asked questions about the Executive Director’s position. Again, we would like to have an Executive Directors who is solely responsible to the members of SDEA. We wanted to know who can give the Executive Director an explicit directive since we were told SDEA dues pays 1/3rd of his salary and CTA pays 2/3rd of his salary. SDEA Board member Scott Mullin stated that the SDEA Board of Directors directs the Executive Director. We would like that clarified by current Executive Director Tim Hill, who is currently a CTA manager in his role as our Executive Director.
The budget committee solicited members’ priorities for the coming budget year. It was unequivocally stated that our priority was to build the budget for bargaining. In 2009, that budget was over $37,800. Our budget for bargaining was $3,547 last year. Going into a bargaining year, members felt it was critical to go in strong.
The question was, where was this money going to come from? A suggestion was made that the money be taken from the training budget. Already during the 7.5 months of this budget year, SDEA has spent $5,833 on training. The rub is most of the members did not know this budget was available for all of us to access for various leadership and CTA trainings and conferences. It is being spent on a very few SDEA Board members. So, for the coming bargaining year, a request was made to redistribute training funds to the bargaining budget.
It was also suggested that future CTA training opportunities be brought to us, and held on site at SDEA. That way, not only would it be considerably more cost effective, many more members would be able to attend. A smarter, well informed membership is a stronger membership!
The budget should be presented at the next Rep. Council meeting on May 15. Make sure your AR attends and make your voice is heard regarding your SDEA dues.