On May 10, the Board for the first time disclosed the proposed contract that had already been approved by the teachers and other union members. This agreement broke all precedent, agreeing to 2 years of raises in advance, versus only for the current year, which is the standard practice for most California districts. I had serious concerns about both the length and size of the contract, which unfortunately were borne out by the budget shock just 2 months later.
First, let me state the obvious – to waive the two-meeting rule on this item would have been a real mistake. Unfortunately even proposing it has raised concerns about transparency and community process that hurt the District with the community.
Second, the decision you are considering tonight is incredibly important, one of the two or three most important the Board makes. Salaries for the certificated and classified staff are by far our biggest expenditure, and in turn, that staff is by far our District’s more important asset. So it pays to be very thoughtful here, especially since we are looking at making a 3-year commitment instead of the usual 1 year.
It’s critical to realize that the decision here isn’t determined by how much we do or don’t like teachers. If you value education, as I think we all do, you’d better love teachers. Instead, the choice is whether our teachers should get a 12% raise over 3 years (plus step & column increases that add another 1.8% a year) OR whether they should get a smaller raise so we can go out and hire even MORE of them. The only practical reason to consider a smaller raise is to hire more teachers in order to bring down our class sizes, which will benefit both teachers and students.
Thanks to Sally Khadifa and especially Rita Tetzlaff, we now know that our secondary class sizes are not what we thought they were, or what the community expected. That’s not a theory – it’s a real problem that we have right now. We can’t ignore it, esp. as a large group of students makes its ways through our secondary schools.
The reality is we are proposing significant raises - to both classroom staff AND administrators - when our class sizes don’t even meet our own stated policies. That does not feel right.
So a 5% raise vs. 4% vs. 3% - the differences seem small, right? But a 2% annual difference is equal to $2.8 million a year. At $125,000 per teacher, that comes to 22 additional teachers. That’s the staff of a full new elementary school, or a 10-15% across the board cut in secondary school class size. That’s as impactful as it gets. That’s what we are giving up, starting this fall and going forward, if we stick with a 5% increase.