District Lays It All Out for the Teachers and All District Employees

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There was a surreal feeling sitting in the partially filled auditorium on the Davis High School Campus. The all-employee meeting was perhaps closer to half employees, but still a robust showing. Superintendent James Hammond, about to lay it on the line for the teachers and other employees, did not recognize the uniqueness of the moment. This wouldn’t have happened under his predecessor.

Perhaps it sunk home at the end, after the bad news had been laid forth, all reasonable options had been exhausted, he thanked those in attendance for coming, and they responded by clapping. It is not often news of this sort is delivered and you hear clapping, but that is what happened on this day. There will be many tough days ahead for the Davis School District. They and the DTA still do not see eye-to-eye on specifics, though they all agree on the basics.

The purpose of this meetings, as Superintendent Hammond put it at the start was to lay out the budget status and assumptions for all to see. Discuss the possibility of salary reductions. And reiterate again that unlike the state, this school district is not going to go outside of the negotiation process.

The meeting was preceded by emailed FAQs to all employees and it will be proceeded by yet another round.

At the end of the day, the district has just one month from this coming Sunday, four weeks really, to come up with their second interim budget.

The struggle as the district has made cleared each time they have gone through this, is that we only have the governor’s plan to work off of. Yesterday morning it was announced that there was a budget agreement, and the budget will go forward for a vote. One of the key questions that Superintendent Hammond laid forth was to what degree the district will be afforded flexibility in the area of categorical funds and fund balance reserves. For now they have anticipated the worst-case scenario with no flexibility.

And yet do not hold your breath on the budget agreement. As much as an agreement was announced, there is still a strong possibility that the votes are not there to pass it. Even the Republican’s negotiator was noncommittal on the prospect of voting for the bill, even as he said this was the best possible deal.

After a long and apologetic speech about the difficulty of the process and a number of other comments that conveyed his general discomfort with having to deliver such bad news–sincerely delivered, Superintendent Hammond turned the discussion over to Associate Superintendent and CBO Bruce Colby.

They spent the balance of the meeting briefly walking through the budget assumptions and challenges and then addressing questions submitted by card from the employees.

As Bruce Colby explained, the district closed the fiscal year 2008 with a fund balance of around 10 million. Due to ongoing structural deficits, the fact that expenditures exceed revenues, the current fund balance is now down to $8.8 million. This year we have a $2.5 million deficit due to midyear adjustments in the budget by the state. That $2.5 million will come from the fund balance.

The goal of the district remains not to notice any employees.

Right now, our budget challenge is such that we have a $2.5 million deficit for 08-09 (that will be paid for with the fund balance). That grows to $3.3 million for 09-10 and $4.9 million for 10-11.

With the budget flexibility carryover we can we reduce our deficits. The carryover brings up to $0.1 million in surplus for this year, but $2.1 million in deficit for 09-10 and increases the deficit to $4.1 million for 10-11 since we’ve spent our carryover in the first two years.

If we spend down our reserves as well, we reduce 09-10 to a $1.2 million deficit but increase 10-11 to a $4.5 million deficit.

Staff layoffs or a 2.5% salary rollback will take care of the deficit for 09-10 but we will still have a $3.3 million deficit for 2010-11.

They then threw out these two numbers. A one-day reduction in the work calendar for all employees is $250,000. A one percent rollback in salary for all employees is $500,000.

If all employees take a four percent paycut, the district does not need to lay off one single employee.

Bruce Colby, Superintendent Hammond, and Kevin French then answered a series of written questions.

The first question was why DTA and the Administration were so far apart on how to balance the budget. From the district’s perspective part of the governor’s plan says that you can go below fund balance. However, his plan does not change ed code and the district believes you have to operate according to ed code. That means you must operate using ongoing revenue or make ongoing cuts. Fund balance reduction is one-time money, not ongoing.

The next question is why aren’t all administrators offering to take a five percent pay cut like the “big four.” They did not address this directly but suggested that this was a choice. It had to be a mutually agreed upon decision and all have to buy into it or it is not going to make a difference. If only a small number of employees buy into it is, it is just a symbolic offer.

Temporary teachers are hired for a single year. Late in the spring they are notified and let go. Then depending on the fiscal situation, budget, and retirements they could be rehired. Because of how late this process is being pushed this might not occur until very late in the spring if it happens at all.

A question was asked whether the pay cut comes from this year’s salary level or next year if one is getting a step and column increase. It was explained that there is a matrix to determine the steps and columns and each cell in that matrix would have a 2.5% decrease. So it would be based on next year’s rate.

Next question was whether the salary reductions would be one-time or ongoing. Answer is that they will be ongoing until the district has the ability to restore them.

Next question asked about the impact of salary decreases on retirement. The answer is that while it would be different based on which retirement system the employee is on, they are trying hard to not let it impact retirement.

Then next question asked about self-qualification. A qualified budget is when one does not have the ability to balance the budget over three years. You can qualify in two ways. First you can say it is balance and the County Office of Education can qualify it. Second, if the district know it cannot balance the budget for the third year, they still have to put a budget together, it would kick in another reporting period requirement, and the county could bring in a fiscal advisor. Regardless the district would still have to have a plan and make salary reductions.

There were concerns about cuts in positions to the classified employee bargaining unit. At this time there are no plans to fill positions at this time given the budget. That means that existing employees have multiple responsibilities and job titles.

There was a question about changes in class size reduction requirements. If the district were to change the K-3, and the 9th and 10th single subject class size reduction requirements from the current 20 to 1 and decrease it to 22 to 1, that would be the equivalent of 14 full time positions or FTE.

There was a question as to the salary reduction DTA would have to take in order for there to be no layoffs. As mentioned earlier, the number is 4 percent.

There was a question about the DHS Stadium. The funding for the stadium does not come from general fund money. So it has absolutely no impact on the status of the budget or employee salaries. The district cannot transfer that money to pay for employee salaries. The district considers this a very serious problem and believe that the liability from an injury is strong enough that it could have to pay a settlement from the general fund in the millions.

As such, the district is set to receive county redevelopment money as a starting lone and then looking into a debt instrument for the remaining money. That debt instrument cannot be used for general fund purposes. Just like Grande and the Nugget Fields, the money from these purposes can only be used for facilities not general fund.

Finally they clarified that the four percent reduction would mean no notices and also no class size reduction modifications.

At this time of course, DTA is arguing that the district does not need to make these kinds of cuts and is arguing for a self-qualification. However, at the end of the meeting, the response was appreciative.

The other thing I think that needs to be mentioned is the anguish that the administration and school board are going through with regards to these cuts. No one wants to make these cuts. But they believe that cutting salary will prevent layoffs and given the economic times, losing one’s job could be disastrous.

Unfortunately DTA does not appear poised to agree to these cuts prior to March 15 when the second interim budget report is due and therefore, you will likely see a repeat of last year with a number of teachers notified with pink slips. It is unfortunate and it could be avoided.

The district has been clear that if flexibility enables it, the salary cuts would be the first thing off the table. Also I reiterate, do not count on the budget being passed tomorrow. Right now the votes aren’t there for it, and even if it does pass, the numbers are bleak.

—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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32 thoughts on “District Lays It All Out for the Teachers and All District Employees”

  1. Anonymous

    At the end of the day, you just want to hang your head and cry. How did everything get so bad, so desperate, and so bleak? Asking teachers to take a 4 percent pay cut to save everything is so gut-wrenching. Who can afford 4 percent of a small salary to begin with? But who wants to see their collegaues laid off, knowing that it's not going to be easy to find a job?And I just learned that the DHS principal is resigning. Given all this craziness, I don't blame him. But where does he hope to find a job? I cross my fingers for him.What a mess, what a mess, what a mess. I hope to wake up and find out that this nightmare is over.Thank you David for your comprehensive coverage and encouragement of discussion on this blog.

  2. Anonymous

    In response to, …Was there any talk of some program cuts and pay cuts of district employees?…I believe that …district employees… are part of the employees that are spoken of in the beginning of the article, …If all employees take a four percent paycut, the district does not need to lay off one single employee….Everyone that is an employee of DJUSD is in this together and we all need to work together rather than trying to single out …administrators… or …district employees…. If DTA wants to hold this up, they are no different than the State of California not able to work together to solve problems.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    …What difference does it make if his predecessor wouldn't have had the meeting? …Of course it's relevant to the issues at hand. Murphy was the master at dodging the tough issues and tough questions. He avoided responsibility dealing with Tahir. He made last year's situation far worse than it had to be and we'd be in much better position right now were it not for him.Pertaining to this situation, you need buy-in from the teachers. You need buy-in from the classified employees. You need buy-in from all staff. That doesn't happen if you simply impose solutions on them. He took the time to lay out the picture in a clear and honest way.I understand the concerns that both the teachers raised last night, the teacher on here raised today, and DTA has raised. But the good thing is that these concerns are raised in open communication rather than closed door meetings and decrees.

  4. wdf

    If I were one of those teachers I wouldn't be in favor of a paycut. If you were a teacher who taught something essential and weren't one of the worst teachers at the school, you wouldn't have anything to worry about right? Or if there were teachers laid off, what is it based on, if not merit of the teacher and demand of that course?This may not be as easy a solution as you might imagine. The strategy behind the paycuts has been to avoid layoffs. If you want to define certain priorities and essentials as a basis for making cuts, there are other issues. If you want to layoff elementary music teachers because you think they're not part of the basic core mission of the district, well you can't; voters approved keeping music teachers funded through Measure W. Certain funding is already locked in. There isn't as much fat to cut as some want to think.If you think that teachers shouldn't take the paycut, then the alternative is to lay off as many teachers (by seniority system) as needed to achieve a balanced budget. The reason that paycuts are being suggested strongly this year when it wasn't last year is in part because of the really bad economy. Laid off teachers will be less likely to find a job this time around. Another reason that salary cuts are on the table is that many in the community don't want to go through the kind of pink slipping process we went through last year.These are tough values choices. Some feel strongly about not laying off teachers; others feel more strongly about keeping the current salary structure.There is actually a very reasonable chance that no salary reductions will happen and there will be a lot of layoffs.

  5. wdf

    I still cannot believe the School District wants us to believe borrowing money for DHS stadium is fiscally sound, but self-qualification may not be, bc we would have trouble getting loans. You mean trouble getting a loan to fix DHS stadium??? Give me a break!!!The decision to borrow money for the stadium was a poor one mainly for its timing and in communicating to the public how it works. Because of that it is now a distraction to the bigger issue of how to fix the operational budget of the district.Funds to pay the loan for the stadium come from CDF assessments that show up on your parcel tax notice. Those assessments go to pay for facilities needs in the district as decided upon by the school board. They are designated by law (and by voters, I think) to be used for facilities and not for operating expenses. If the school board chose not to take out a loan for the stadium (or any other district facility), then those funds would accumulate in the Yolo County Treasury and sit there unused.In summary, a loan for the stadium has no connection to funds for the operational budget. Self-qualification, salary cuts, and layoffs apply the operations universe. The stadium loan applies to the facilities universe. Their funds don't cross over.

  6. Gagged but happy som

    –Finally, a voice of reason from an insider. Teachers need to band together, and come up with solid suggestions, and voice them loud and clear. I think the problem teachers are having is they see the waste, and are not willing to buy into a pay cut until

  7. Lexicon Artist

    DMG: If all employees take a four percent paycut, the district does not need to lay off one single employee. … the four percent reduction would mean no notices and also no class size reduction modifications. … DTA is arguing that the district does not need to make these kinds of cuts and is arguing for a self-qualification….This math was all true a year ago, when only Richard Harris supported keeping all teachers and staff, but taking back the recent salary increase. The DTA and the other four members of the school board scoffed at this. I realize that the economic situation has grown far worse since then, but the fundamental philosophical question remains much the same: either cut employees or cut salaries.DMG: …There was a question as to the salary reduction DTA would have to take in order for there to be no layoffs. As mentioned earlier, the number is 4 percent….Given the choice between cutting salaries and cutting employees (including the most junior teachers), it's clear that the teachers' union still prefers the latter option. The question thus arises: Have the views of Daleiden, Taylor, Lovenburg and Allen changed? Is there any reason, from their comments, that they have?

  8. David M. Greenwald

    …Given the choice between cutting salaries and cutting employees (including the most junior teachers), it's clear that the teachers' union still prefers the latter option….I disagree.I think they have an ordered ranking of preferences:Option 1: No layoffs and no salary cuts (i.e. find the money from elsewhere)Option 2: Salary cuts no layoffsIn other words, they prefer no layoffs and will take salary cuts to avoid layoffs, but they are still holding out for Option 1–which could be possible depending on the budget and what it gives in terms of flexibility.

  9. wdf

    Hammond and Colby are disgusting. All they want is a simple way out of this mess, by getting employees to take a 4% cut. That way these two don't have to do their jobs. And Bruce Colby, by the way, would end up with a 1% raise w a 4% cut, since he just got a 5% raise. What a shmuck!!!For the record (and this was mentioned in the Enterprise as well as one of Greenwald's recent articles), the top four administrators (Hammond, Colby, French, and Bryant) agreed to double the cut agreed to by DTA (and CSEA, I believe). So if DTA were to agree to 4% cut, the top four would be expected to take 8%.

  10. Lets assume

    that the district does have the $ for the new stadium that is completely seperate from the $ used to pay teachers. Let's assume that is the case.Even if that is true, it still has a bad appearance of spending $ on frills while teachers suffer. Furthermore, the district employees say they are willing to …be responsible… and take a …5% cut while the teachers take only a 2.5% cut. Considering the fact that these employees make several hundred percent more than teachers, they should be taking a lot more than 5% cuts.Also, the 5% cut is what they need to agree to to save their jobs. So their are self-serving motives in play.

  11. Lets Assume

    …Considering the fact that these employees make several hundred percent more than teachers, they should be taking a lot more than 5% cuts….While reforming how the state funds education is a discussion for another day, it occurs to me that if the state simply gave districts all of their money on a simple formula (number of students + extra for special ed population), districts really would not need so many high-priced administrators. So much of what they do is based on the funding system being so complicated…. This is parallel with the costs of our idiotic income tax system. Literally billions of dollars are expended in our economy on specialized accountants who have mastered and can manipulate the tax code to the advantage of their clients.Lexicon Artist, you didn't adress the point of mine that you yourself quoted. So I will re-state it. How can the district justify paying administrators obscene six figure salaries while teachers get 2.5% cuts and then make it sound nice by calling it a 5% cut?Then you went on a tangent about the complications of the tax code.

  12. Anonymous

    …How can the district justify paying administrators obscene six figure salaries while teachers get 2.5% cuts and then make it sound nice by calling it a 5% cut?…Because they could probably get higher salaries in private companies.

  13. wdf

    that the district does have the $ for the new stadium that is completely seperate from the $ used to pay teachers. Let's assume that is the case.Even if that is true, it still has a bad appearance of spending $ on frills while teachers suffer.The district has the potential opportunity to take advantage of lower prices to refurbish the stadium — negotiate lower labor/supply cost, take loan out at lower interest rates (side effects/benefits of a weakened economy).If the district followed your advice, and perhaps postponed taking out the loan for perhaps a couple of years, would you then come back and criticize the district for not taking advantage of those cost benefits right now?

  14. Lexicon Artist

    …Lexicon Artist, you didn't adress the point of mine that you yourself quoted. So I will re-state it….Let's Assume,I didn't realize you were addressing that question to me. I don't have the answer. I think bureaucratic administrators are generally overpaid; and I think the best teachers are terribly underpaid. I don't buy the argument that these bureaucrats need these high salaries, lest they be bid away by the private sector or other districts. The best private corporations pay big money to people who generate big revenues, not to administrators. And even if other school districts would bid away administrators, where is the evidence that their bureaucratic skills are in short supply?

  15. Cheezwhiz

    …I think anyone with a Bachelor's degree can be an administrator,…That is so naive!A bachelor's degree is not enough in Davis, because you have all kinds of residents who think they know all about education because they're affiliated with the largest employer in the city, and/or they have advanced degrees. I don't think they'd respect an administration as much that didn't have a few letters after their names.A healthy ego also helps. Otherwise you'd crumble in the face of all the self-righteous criticism on this blog alone.If you meet these standards at a minimum (an advanced degree and a healthy ego), even then you may not get hired. But nevertheless, put your name out there and we (your fellow Davis voters) will consider your application for school board.You may not get the big bucks, but your name will be mentioned frequently in public (and in private).

  16. Anonymous

    Please stop the love fest for Hammond, and just stick to the substance. What difference does it make if his predecessor wouldn’t have had the meeting? It’ not relevant to the current situation. Please move on from events that happened two years ago.

  17. Anonymous

    I agree with the DJUSD teacher. There are extras that can be cut there it seems weren’t even discussed. If I were one of those teachers I wouldn’t be in favor of a paycut. If you were a teacher who taught something essential and weren’t one of the worst teachers at the school, you wouldn’t have anything to worry about right? Or if there were teachers laid off, what is it based on, if not merit of the teacher and demand of that course?

  18. wdf

    The question thus arises: Have the views of Daleiden, Taylor, Lovenburg and Allen changed? Is there any reason, from their comments, that they have?Lovenburg voted against Colby’s salary increase, and also voted against taking out the loan for the stadium (only dissenting vote each time), with the reasoning that it was poor timing for such a thing with the current economic situation. So she seems to show the most fiscally conservative position on the board at present with those recent votes. Harris voted for each of those.In other words, they prefer no layoffs and will take salary cuts to avoid layoffs, but they are still holding out for Option 1–which could be possible depending on the budget and what it gives in terms of flexibility.That seems to be what some union reps (Haskell and Salim) are suggesting. I wonder if the general membership is on the same page, however.

  19. Lexicon Artist

    …Considering the fact that these employees make several hundred percent more than teachers, they should be taking a lot more than 5% cuts….While reforming how the state funds education is a discussion for another day, it occurs to me that if the state simply gave districts all of their money on a simple formula (number of students + extra for special ed population), districts really would not need so many high-priced administrators. So much of what they do is based on the funding system being so complicated…. This is parallel with the costs of our idiotic income tax system. Literally billions of dollars are expended in our economy on specialized accountants who have mastered and can manipulate the tax code to the advantage of their clients.

  20. Randall

    …How can the district justify paying administrators obscene six figure salaries while teachers get 2.5% cuts and then make it sound nice by calling it a 5% cut?…The easy answer is that everybody pays their administrators obscene six figure salaries while everyone pays their teachers considerably less. That may not justify it but it does generally prevent people from challenging it too vigorously.

  21. David M. Greenwald

    Not a chance. School financing is extremely complex. Curriculum development requires higher education. I don’t see any job there that requires less than a masters and probably some sort of doctorate.

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