Good News Bad News For Davis Schools

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CTA Launches Campaign Against Class Size Reduction Flexibility

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If you read through the numbers reported on Thursday, Davis Schools will likely given some measure of flexibility survive without major teacher layoffs at least through 2010-11. The district got some more good news perhaps when the House passed the stimulus plan that will contain for schools.

Davis will get roughly $2.7 million over the next two years. That includes money for construction and modernization, some for programs for low-income students, and nearly $1.8 million for special education programs. Woodland stands to get far more based on a higher percentage of lower-income students than Davis, but Woodland is also far worse off than Davis.

However, the Senate still needs to approve its own version of the stimulus in the coming week. When it does, there is expected to be considerably less money for the district in it and the reconciliation will mean that Davis will get something, but not what the House version would give it.

Meanwhile, if we go back and look at the budget projections for the district, one of the big caveats was whether or not the district would get Class Size Reduction Flexibility. Allowing the district to raise class size from 20 to 22 would allow it a saving of nearly $1 million per year, which means $2 million by 2010-11.

During his presentation on Tuesday, Bruce Colby suggested that of all the proposals in the Governor’s budget, a change in class size reduction or CSR, was most problematic.

Based on a teleconference with CTA President David Sanchez on Friday, I would suggest that actually overstates the possibility of CSR changes being implemented. The CTA is going to war against flexibility in the use of CSR.

Mr. Sanchez said:

“What’s most offensive is that eliminating class-size reduction won’t save the state one dime. Districts will continue to receive that funding from the state, but won’t have to spend that money on class-size reduction, or frankly, even in the classroom.”

Let me make two caveats to what I am about to say. First, I am very familiar with the data from Davis’ perspective but less so around the state. Everything I know about Davis is that the flexibility is what Davis needs to survive the next two years without cutting teachers or programs.

Second, in general I am supportive of the teachers unions, but I think in this case they are misguided.

Right now, district need flexibility in the money that they receive and we need to trust local districts to know how best to spend it rather than Sacramento.

Also at the press conference was Alicia Gaddis who is chairwoman of the Sacramento branch of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (you might be more familiar with their acronym, ACORN, they do more than just register voters however).

“I can assure you that the districts in poorer neighborhoods will be the first to increase classroom sizes, [which] means the achievement gap will widen.”

I would like to see the analysis of how CSR funds would impact that. For Davis, 80% of the money the district spends goes directly to the classroom. The question is where in the classroom it needs to go.

One of the concerns expressed by the CTA and others is that CSR was a process that took years to create and build up. However, relaxing the requirements for a few years until this budget situation is not going to destroy the program.

The bottom line here is that if CSR is left in place, school district like Davis are going to have to eat into their reserves more and eventually they will have to cut their teachers. Across the state schools are cutting their teachers. The only question is whether they can have the flexibility to simply use attrition and retirement to balance their books or whether they will have to deeply cut into HS and other secondary programs to survive.

It’s a tough call right now, but if given the choice, most school districts would prefer greater flexibility during challenging times and then they can prioritize their spending needs.

The CTA is unfortunately showing a general distrust for school districts to make these choices.

In the meantime, CSR flexibility is probably now DOA. The CTA this weekend is launching a major ad campaign urging Californians to call the Governor and their legislators to oppose the proposal. Legislators already were expected to remove the proposal from the budget, this is just the coup de grace on that.

For Davis, that means a couple of million in flexibility for the next few years that is gone. The federal stimulus if Davis ends up seeing any of it when the Senate finishes their work will mitigate some but not all of that.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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19 thoughts on “Good News Bad News For Davis Schools”

  1. Don Shor

    …The CTA is going to war against flexibility in the use of CSR….Since this is a zero-sum situation, any proposal that is off the table increases the need for another method of balancing the budget. Now we know what the CTA is against. Did anyone ask Mr. Sanchez what he advocates in order to achieve the savings necessary?

  2. union dooooos

    Once again the unions say …we are protecting education… but in reality they are destroying it. I hope this will start the ball rolling for the removal of the CTA from our classrooms. They add no value to our students and to the teachers all they do is line there pockets with teachers union dues and spend it on office space and making sure they elect …there… Kind of democrats to state office.

  3. Lexicon Artist

    …Did anyone ask Mr. Sanchez what he advocates in order to achieve the savings necessary?…If the alternative were taking back all increases in salaries and benefits awarded by the DJUSD to all district employees since 2005 or increasing class sizes (presumably doing so by firing the most recently hired teachers), I would agree that the former is a much more attractive option. I’m aware, of course, that the will is not there to take back the lucrative increases the district gave away.* I use 2005 because that is when I think housing prices in Davis (and California at large) peaked. Insofar as trouble has followed, it came from giving increases in pay and benefits when (post-bubble) tax receipts were on the decline.

  4. Lexicon Artist

    …Public Employee unions are gradually, one way or another, going to drive this entire state into the fiscal abyss….count on it…..In my opinion, the problem is not with the unions. They have the right, responsibility and obligation to represent their memberships as best they can, asking for all they can get. The problem is with the elected officials who bargain with them, not in consideration of the taxpayers or the common good, but in consideration of paying off the favors done for them by these unions.In California, most elected Democrats are financed for office by public employee unions. In primary campaigns, unions fund the candidates (esp. Democrats) who are most sympathetic to their cause; and then those people, when elected, reward the unions with the public’s money*.You can blame non-union voters for electing these Democrats. However, there is rarely another choice in our system; and because candidates who take money from other rent-seeking organizations are equally impure, it’s not as if those who are not financed by the unions can claim the high road.To my mind, the only viable solution is public financing of campaigns by a specific tax designed for that purpose. As long as we have privately financed campaigns, our elected officials will be corrupt.* In Davis, of course, the union firefighters have been amply rewarded with the public’s money.

  5. Anonymous

    They add no value to our students and to the teachers all they do is line there pockets with teachers union dues and spend it on office space and making sure they elect …there… Kind of democrats to state office.I think there must be black bunting hanging on the English Department of the high school you attended, hung by your teachers in mourning for pleasantly readable English. But you’re not as egregiously mangling English as Sarah Palin ever did…

  6. Mike Hart

    The best contract a union ever negotiates is its last…How many companies, cities and counties need to go bankrupt before someone finally pulls the plug on these organizations?

  7. wdf

    I hope the DTA is sincerely committed to working out a viable solution to avoid pink slips/layoffs. Unions that don’t do something to protect their younger/newer workers (pink slipping/layoffs disadvantage newer workers in a senior system) will soon lose membership.

  8. Mike

    Teachers unions DO NOT care about pleasing recently hired teachers who make the lowest salaries. They would rather those newbies get laid off, so old fogies who make the highest teacher salaries can keep 100% of their money. We saw this in Davis last year, when the DTA went apoplectic after Richard Harris suggested the district take back the most recent increase in teacher salaries so no one would have to be pinkslipped. Don’t fool yourself, WDF, the DTA will not allow the highest paid union members to make a sacrifice for the betterment of education.

  9. David M. Greenwald

    It’s really dangerous and unproductive to make blanket statements. DTA has stated that they want no pink slips this year and I believe that will occur due to cooperation.

  10. Mike

    On second thought, I did a little research after my last screed and realized that unions have helped make wages better for all sectors of employment, even those outside of unions. Funny thing, it turns out unions helped create the middle class. Guess I should have looked a little harder before jumping to conclusions. Sorry everyone!

  11. Stephen

    …Funny thing, it turns out unions helped create the middle class….Funnier thing, it turns out rising productivity of labor created the American middle class and the middle class in every advanced country in the world. In periods when U.S. unions were in decline and the marginal productivity of labor was increasing, mean living standards improved (1980s and 1990s). In periods when unions were in ascendancy and the marginal productivity of labor was increasing, mean living standards improved (1950s and 1960s). In periods when unions were in decline and the marginal productivity of labor was static or declining, mean living standards fell or did not improve (1970s and 2000s). In periods when unions were in ascendancy and the marginal productivity of labor was static or declining, mean living standards fell or did not improve (1930s and 1940s). Unions don’t substantially transfer wealth to the middle class, unless they play a role in improving the marginal productivity of labor. Cross-national studies of labor productivity suggest conclusively that unions do the opposite–they hamper the growth of labor productivity. The result in the most highly unionized countries (seen e.g. in France and pre-Thatcher Britain) is no improvement in mean living standards and the inability of people in the lower income strata to rise up to the middle class living standards. The picture is no different comparing industrial unions with public sector unions, except those in the public sector have the effect of taking wealth that otherwise would go to helping the poor and transfering it to higher income earners with greater market skills.

  12. Anonymous

    Add CTA to the list of working class entities this blog has bashed along with cops, firefighters and city staff. Maybe you should rename it the Antiworkingpeoples Vanguard of Davis.

  13. Anonymous

    …The result in the most highly unionized countries (seen e.g. in France and pre-Thatcher Britain) is no improvement in mean living standards and the inability of people in the lower income strata to rise up to the middle class living standards….Unions have made it very hard for young people in France to get a break. They are always pushing for a higher minimum wage (to eliminate competition), shorter work weeks, earlier retirements and more benefits. They causes employers to not want to hire new workers. That means high unemployment and major riots every year since 2005.This is what France’s leading economist wrote:…In the 25-54 age group, the employment rates of men in France and the U.S. have stayed very close; they have diverged a little for women, and the employment rate for people over 55 has dropped spectacularly in France. But it is the precipitous decline in the employment rate of young men that is most striking: 30 points, as opposed to…2 points in the US. Even if one focusses on the older half, the 20-24 age group, the difference remains striking: only 40% of these young men are employed in France, as compared to roughly 90% in the 30-49 age group…….The high cost of the minimum wage for employers is a high hurdle for worker groups with low observable productivity characteristics (most notably education)

  14. David M. Greenwald

    …Add CTA to the list of working class entities this blog has bashed along with cops, firefighters and city staff. Maybe you should rename it the Antiworkingpeoples Vanguard of Davis….It would be nice if you distinguished between some of the people who post on here and the author. I’m very supportive of the CTA, I disagree with them on this issue.

  15. Keep an eye on em David

    I think the district plans to close Emerson.They know they cannot do this directly without a stink, so they are opting for a two step solution.Suddenly Hammond comes out and …reconfigures… the schools, shifting sixth graders into Jr. High, and shifting 9th graders into High Schools. Why reconfigure schools? Why now?Simple. The plan is to shift the ninth graders out of emerson into Davis Sr. High, and move the sixth graders into Holmes and Harper.Therefore, there will be a declining enrollment problem at emerson with no sixth graders, and ninth graders at other schools. This will be grounds to close the school.DPD, please keep an eye on these people. You can’t trust em.

  16. I smell a rat!

    …I think the district plans to close Emerson….I wholeheartedly agree w this assessment and how the school district plans to get away with it over time.Also, correct me if I am wrong, but raising class size in effect lays off teachers, right? Of course CTA is against raising class sizes, bc they know it will ultimately result in teachers being laid off. A rose by any other name – SMELLS JUST THE SAME!

  17. Robin W

    The district and School Board just decided to place Da Vinci’s new junior high program at Emerson as a magnet program in order to increase the number of students at Emerson and balance the number of students at each junior high. That does not sound like a step towards closing Emerson.Our upper level administrators are new and were surprised to see the Davis schools configured with a junior high for grades 7-9 when the rest of the country has middle schools for grades 6-8. The configuration discussions are being held in order to assess what the community wants and why. It is a good opportunity for parents to explain to these new administrators why our unusual configuration works better for Davis than the configuration most commonly used elsewhere. It does not appear to me to be designed as a step towards closing Emerson.

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