Davis Schools Foundation Finds Itself Stymied


It was a year ago when the Davis Schools Foundation led the way for this community to come together to save our schools.  In a dramatic fundraising campaign, they did what many thought was impossible, they raised $1.7 which along with a better economic picture and some one-time monies, saved the district from steep cuts–up to 114 teaching jobs were saved.  Now here we are again, despite the passage of Measure W to provide an addition $2.4 million in school support, we find ourselves facing a similar if less severe problem.


But even with the current level of cuts, the state is facing at least $8 billion in additional cuts and possibly $14 billion if the propositions do not pass (and the polls show them failing).

The Davis Schools Foundation has an Op-Ed in today’s Davis Enterprise.

They write:

“The program, service and staff cuts our school board is proposing represent a step backwards from our key values: closing the achievement gap, school safety and student supervision, college preparation, adequate counseling and class size reduction.”

As they eloquently put it, we as a community cannot change the economic times that we live, but there are things we can do to protect our education.

“We cannot change the economic times our district faces. But we can come together once again to protect the education of our children. They deserve more than what our state has approved to give them this year. Long term, many of us are working at the state level to fix our broken system of state financing for all vital public services. Right now, however, we can preserve and strengthen the educational services and programs offered students in Davis if we, as adults, agree to succeed together with shared sacrifice.”

However here is the kicker:

“It is imperative that those in our community charged with the responsibility of educating our children act now to protect them. The Davis Schools Foundation is ready and positioned to help. But the foundation finds itself stymied by the lack of an agreement among teachers, administrators, support staff and the Board of Education on a strategy for collectively providing a quality education to Davis school children. Until such an agreement is reached, the foundation cannot set appropriate fundraising goals and strategies.”

What do they mean there is a lack of agreement?

This seems less certain, but I believe this is the core of what we have been discussing for the past month or so. 

In fact, I think the DSF in in their op-ed is not nearly broad enough in terms of the lack of agreement.

The first part we all know–the board of education and administrators believe there needs to be the willingness on the part of teachers to take some sort of paycut.

The teachers seem to believe there are other ways to balance the budget.  I am not party to private talks, but to my knowledge they have never shown anyone the way–at least in a manner that is acceptable.  For instance, the board and administration rejected a proposal that we do anything but a positive qualification.

Short of that, I have not seen any way to avoid layoffs without the teachers taking a paycut.  I’m sorry that this suggestion has angered teachers in this community.  I do not see the numbers adding up any other way.  Believe me, I hate to see teachers take pay cuts, they are not paid nearly enough and their level of health benefits is frankly appalling.  I got better health care as a graduate student at UCD than teachers are getting from DJUSD.  That’s just shocking.

But there is also as I have pointed out the reality.

The DSF op-ed continues:

“Every day without an agreement is one more day without a clear set of district needs and priorities – one more day of uncertainty for pink-slipped district staff – and one more day for all of us to worry. Every day without an agreement is one less day for mobilizing families, friends and neighbors – and one less day for fundraising.”


“The community wants to help, and many have said they are willing to make sacrifices once again to invest in our children’s education and their future. In these tough economic times, contributions by community members will require even greater sacrifices.”

There are so open questions at this point.  For instance, the Blue and White Foundation will be fundraising to raise money for the stadium repair.  Many of course object to the district approving the stadium during these times.  As I understand the financing issues, I do not have a problem with it from a fiscal standpoint, but do think given political realities it probably should have been put off until the summer.

Nevertheless, one issue of concern is what it will look like to the public if there is a fundraising drive from the Blue and White Foundation along side fundraising efforts from DSF.  The stadium does have a very specific audience that they will cater to, but I think the bottom line is that there will inevitably some competition between DSF and B&W, and that could be problematic.

Given the fact that the state is facing possibly another $14 billion in budget cuts in June, I have backed off earlier claims to oppose fundraising by DSF for the purposes of saving jobs.  But I also have to say, that it might not be enough, even if they raise $2 million to save jobs this time.

However, I also want to remain clear on this, such fundraising efforts will be far more effective if the teachers are willing to take a paycut.

There is further complication.  Last year, at least up until the budget collapsed at the end of the year, the district took the money as a bridge to fill a year gap until they could pass the parcel tax.

There is now indication from the district that any fundraising effort by DSF would probably not result in fewer layoffs.  This is undoubtedly some of the lack of agreement.  The district is not going to use one-time monies to fill the budget gap this time because there is no plan for permanent funding increases.  At best this would forestall layoffs.  And on a three-year basis it would not enable the district to fix their structural deficit if they had to rely on one-time monies.

The bottom line here is that the finance issue a good degree more tricky than last year.  It is not clear even if DSF raised $2 million in this horrible economic climate, if the district would roll the dice and pull back on the layoffs knowing that that money is only one-time and that it is unlikely the DSF could raise it on an on-going basis.

To me, DSF were heroes in our community last year and their efforts should be applaud.  I both sympathize and understand their frustrations at being stymied.  That said, the fiscal picture is simply very complicated.  The district wants to deal with its structural deficit and that means that one-time monies are not going to fix this problem.

I join DSF in urging all of the stakeholders to come to an agreement on our future.  I applaud their drive, will, and determination to bring us a better school district.  But now we all have to learn the meaning of the word community and all have to come together with a shared sense of sacrifice.  I am willing to do my part, but I await those in charge coming to the kind of agreement that will make all of this possible.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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28 thoughts on “Davis Schools Foundation Finds Itself Stymied”

  1. wdf

    I also notice an article in today’s (Sunday’s) Enterprise discussing that the state of California is $1 billion short on expected economic stimulus from the federal government. I guess that’s an extra billion we could add to the $8 billion that the state is short on projected tax receipts?

    Given that the district has more or less locked in the FTE cuts for next year w/ the passage of the PKS list by March 15, budget options appear extremely limited for DJUSD, as well as for all other school districts in the state. I wonder what budget cut options the district would exercise if required to make further cuts in May/June? What would the state consider cutting, if required to then?

    Is it worth it for any group to consider or agree to salary cuts now before knowing clearly the full impact by May/June? It’s unfortunate, but these questions seem to involve larger amounts of money than what DSF could consider raising in these times.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    WDF: We know that districts can rescind PKS lists if the May revise is improved, can they issue additional ones if they end up having to cut another $3 million? What happens under such conditions?

  3. sauras

    How about the effect of the Cannery project being pulled? A great deal of the money the DSF raised was from developers who understand the importance of the Davis schools helping hold up real estate prices. With the defeats of Covell Village and now the Cannery coupled with Measure J votes needed for the new Wildhorse Ranch many of these local people may be rethinking their charitable support of the schools. It would certainly be interesting to go ask some of the big DSF donors about this point.

  4. My Concerns

    DSF has come to the reality that it cannot come up w necessary funding year after year to keep filling the budget holes in the DJUSD budget. That means there are two choices for the DJUSD – cut programs and/or cut teachers – unless teachers are willing to take a pay cut. Any solution means cutting teachers. Cutting programs means cutting teachers. Cutting teachers means cutting teachers. Cutting teacher salaries means cutting teachers figuratively speaking. There just is not enough money to go around, so which poison do we pick? DPD, can we do a poll? Here is how it would go:

    Which would you prefer, to balance the DJUSD budget?
    1) Cut teachers by increasing class size
    2) Cut teachers by cutting specific programs
    3) Teachers take a paycut
    4) A combination of all of the above

    From my own point of view, I do think DJUSD needs to cut some programs that are not necessary. The problem is going to be determining which ones go. Already I have seen math teachers cut, while ornamental horticulture and stage technician teachers remain. I really don’t think this sort of priority system is reasonable.

    However, I also recognize that it is very important to the economy to keep people employed. If we don’t, and start laying off scads of teachers, teachers will be folks who cannot make mortgage payments on their houses – which will end up in foreclosure, since it is not likely the laid off teachers can find other jobs. Scads of houses on the foreclosure market drives the price of homes down, and guess what? Less tax revenue generated. It will turn into a vicious downward spiral resulting in more teacher layoffs.

    So teachers and administrators had better step up to the plate and take a paycut, or else they may be the next ones pink-slipped. Then slowly we need to reform our educational system to get back to the basics, and do away w frills – but in a more measured and slower way that will not result in massive layoffs all at once.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    “Already I have seen math teachers cut, while ornamental horticulture and stage technician teachers remain. I really don’t think this sort of priority system is reasonable. “

    You’ve posted this multiple times. Once again, the problem is not as simple as you suggest. When they cut math teachers that means they are consolidating classes not cutting courses. They are still going to offer their math courses. If they chose to cut stage technician class, which is probably one class, taught by a teacher who teaches drama, you may not save anything.

    Moreover, if you cut that class or ornamental hortaculture, you are probably cutting a class which counts toward graduation or entrance requirements and therefore would need to offer another such class in its stead.

    This is again why I impart on you the need to learn how the big picture looks rather than a single class or two.

  6. wdf

    The most interest statement/argument that I found in the DSF op-ed piece was this:

    [quote]if the Davis Joint Unified School District were an “average” school district meeting nationwide staffing ratios, our 8,600 students would be served by approximately 120 more teachers, 48 more school site and central office administrators, and 140 more classified and other support staff (source: Public Policy Institue of California, “Fiscal Realities: Budget Tradeoffs in California Government,” 2007[/quote]

    Some DJUSD critics here have decried massive amounts of waste in the Davis schools, even with this situation described above.

  7. sauras

    One of the things the Davis schools could do is to ask the state for the authority to sell surplus property and use it for operating income instead of restricting its use to facilities. Much has been made of the Grande property sale money being restricted under law and the football stadium funding being out of reach for funding operating expenses but these are extraordinary times so it wouldn’t hurt to ask Wolk and Yamada to back such a change. Republicans in the legislature proposed a similar solution for state surplus property to close the budget deficit so you would think they would see this as an opening. Has anyone suggested this?

  8. I dont see it

    The sale of surplus property is still one-time money. Moreover, with the depressed market for real estate right now, there is no way they could sell it quickly enough to impact for next year.

  9. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”If they don’t give you one on March 15 as far as I know your job is guaranteed for the next year.”[/i]

    The job may be guaranteed, but the salaries are not. The contract for the DTA expires on June 30. The district has the right, under its agreement with the DTA and state law, to proffer a new contract which includes a pay cut, if the parties cannot agree to terms after bargaining [i]in good faith[/i] all summer.

  10. wdf

    “Already I have seen math teachers cut, while ornamental horticulture and stage technician teachers remain. I really don’t think this sort of priority system is reasonable.”

    Ornamental horticulture and stagecraft are ROP courses (vocational in nature) that are funded from the Yolo Co. Office of Education. At present they do not allow that money to be spent on anything else but ROP designated classes.


  11. wdf

    “WDF: We know that districts can rescind PKS lists if the May revise is improved, can they issue additional ones if they end up having to cut another $3 million? What happens under such conditions?”

    It seems like Rifkin offers the answer in his comment above. The district would be in a position to cut salaries if more cuts come in May/June.

  12. Rick Entrikin

    IF we have any hope of saving teachers’ jobs and sharing the “sacrifice,” we must begin by “cutting from the top.” Our first step should be to eliminate as many administrators (vice-this and assistant-that)and reduce salaries of remaining administrators by 15-25%.

    The rationale for paying administrators 3-5 times the salary of an excellent teacher continues to escape me. The “company line” is that these figureheads are in such demand that they could earn more in the private sector.

    Well, I say fine. Let’s just offer the administrators a 25% pay cut (and put those savings into salaries to retain teachers). If the administrators choose to leave, great! Let them test the waters in the private sector, and our schools will benefit even more.

    With the huge talent pool of retired teachers & former UCD employees in town,I believe we can administer our schools with volunteers and low-paying salaried positions.

    As the DSF has shown, our residents do care about our schools, education & children. BUT, many of us can’t afford to pay more in taxes or fees.

    So, let’s do the right thing: Dump the administrators; have the teachers take a small (but symbolically significant)pay cut, and convene an expert panel of teachers, parents & concerned family members to appoint a volunteer group of citizens to administer our schools on-site.

    Radical? Probably, but not as far-fetched as it might seem. Let’s do it!

    Time for a massive overhaul of the way our Davis schools are administered & funded.

  13. School Person

    Sounds good Rick until you do the math. First, the school district has already done that, they got rid of their Associate Superintendent for education. They haven’t replaced their risk manager or business services director. They haven’t replaced a couple of their assistants as well. The people they have left are now performing the jobs of two or three people.

    It sounds good if you want to cut their pay too, but that’s not going to save real money. I think you’d be looking at $250,000 in savings. I don’t agree that volunteers could do their work. Especially with regards to school financing, it’s very very complicated stuff.

  14. My Concerns

    “Ornamental horticulture and stagecraft are ROP courses (vocational in nature) that are funded from the Yolo Co. Office of Education. At present they do not allow that money to be spent on anything else but ROP designated classes.”

    Don’t you think waste at the federal level trickles down to effect the local level? I sure as hell do!

  15. David M. Greenwald

    On the previous question, apparently there is a provision in Ed Code to allow for more personnel cuts between July 1 and August 15th per Ed. Code 44955.5. This is triggered if a State Budget is adopted with a less than 2% COLA. This has never been triggered in the past since a budget has always approved after August 15th in bad budget years. However this is a possibility for this year because there is already a budget in place.

  16. David M. Greenwald

    My Concerns: You are shifting your point again. Your original claim was that the district would save money by cutting it. When shown that would not be the case, you then shift to talking about federal level waste (which is not what WDF was talking about anyway). The bottom line is that there is no evidence that cutting the ROP courses will save the district money that can be used elsewhere.

  17. Rich Rifkin

    RICK: [i]”Our first step should be to eliminate as many administrators (vice-this and assistant-that)and reduce salaries of remaining administrators by 15-25%. … The rationale for paying administrators 3-5 times the salary of an excellent teacher continues to escape me.”[/i]

    SP: [b]”Sounds good Rick until you do the math.”[/b]

    I think, as a general proposition, what Rick Entrikin says — even if it won’t solve the problem at hand or even make much of a dent in the deficit — makes a huge amount of sense. How can our Board of Education justify paying the Superintendent something like 33% more per year than the City of Davis pays its City Manager? In terms of hours of work and total responsibility and so on, a city manager’s workload is twice that of a school superintendent. Moreover, how can the BofE justify the huge amounts it pays to lieutenants to the Superintendent? Although with benefits they probably make about the same money, but in salary the Business Services director makes about $25,000 more than the city manager? I concede I don’t know why his job is so important, but can someone who really knows tell me if Bruce Colby is putting in 80 hour weeks, 50 weeks a year? If he worked in the private sector, that’s how much he’d have to work to pull in the dollars he is as a guy who prepares budgets.

    SP: [i]” The people they have left are now performing the jobs of two or three people.”[/i]

    Doesn’t that suggest that we never needed the people who left, if those who remain can easily take on their work?

    I think the bottom line is this: Whenever we have extra funds, the money should go into the classroom, to reward the teachers who are (based on performance criteria) doing the best jobs. We ought to hold down the percentage of money that goes outside of the classroom, be it to overpaid admin staff or folks cutting the grass. When it comes to paying administrators for the district, we ought to offer pay packages as small as we can possibly get away with — I imagine at $100,000, the district could attract 50 qualified candidates for jobs it’s now paying $200,000 — and demand that those who hold those jobs work at least as many hours per year as folks in industry work.

  18. Rick Entrikin

    I am honored that Rick Rifkin senses a bit of wisdom in my frustration over the way the DJUSD is being (mis?)managed. The LAST place we should cut is teachers (and that includes vocational teachers who impart “real-world” skills to students who want to work with their hands,and whom we call upon for our automotive, plumbing and electrical needs).And, sorry, “school person,” you just don’t get it. Many voters feel duped by the way our “exemplary” school district is being governed. We pass one tax measure after another to solve the “problem,” but with the blink of an eye, we are told that’s still not enough.And your comment that my suggestions would save “only” about $250K/year clearly reflects the arrogance of the “blind-faith” status quo. Wake up: saving even $250K/year (and I think it could be closer to $500K)would save a number of teaching positions.And what about the $10 million DHS track/stadium upgrade? I love sports and have played @ many levels, but $10 million for athletic facilities while simultaneously terminating teachers, vocational instructors, counselors, custodians & grounds-keepers? That just isn’t right.The “powers that be” need to understand something: we are not going to approve any more taxes until we have clear evidence that every dollar we have approved previously is being spent as efficiently as possible.  (And what could we do with local contractors, business donations & volunteers to upgrade DHS athletic facilities for $1 million instead of $10 million?)To repeat: we need to cut as many administrative positions (and the salaries of those who choose to remain)as soon as possible. (And, please, do not tell me how difficult it is to “count beans,” push a pencil or balance a budget. We have many people in our community who are accomplished in all of those areas.)So how do we do it? We need to establish a community-wide, citizens-based planning group to overhaul the governance & funding of our local schools -immediately.  

  19. Rick Entrikin

    Just Curious: Does your query about my tax voting record mean that you want still ANOTHER tax to solve our school “problem.” No matter how I might vote, maybe you should understand the real issue.

    People in this town have supported our schools in many ways (at the ballot box, add-ons to property taxes, fund-raisers, etc., etc.) But, NOW, many citizens feel betrayed. We are paying more money, mid-level administrators and bean-counters are being paid more than tenured UCD professors, and our teachers and critical support staff are threatened with job losses.

    For the record, I have lived here for 35 years and have voted for nearly every state & local education tax during that time. The last time I voted for a tax was last year (Measure W). During my 35 years in Davis, I have voted in every local, stae & federal election.

    And, if you are so “curious” about everyone else’s positions, why don’t you have the guts to print your name & state your positions?

    Just Wondering.

  20. David M. Greenwald

    I think Rick has a good point here. I understand the need for anonymity, especially in a small town like this one. And I believe there is a good time and place for it. That is why I created this site in ways that people could express themselves either anonymously, psuedononymously, or using their real names.

    At the same time, there are people here who abuse that privilege either by calling others out or attacking those who have chosen to post under their own names while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. I don’t consider that heroic, in fact I think it is rather cowardly. I will continue to allow anonymous postings, but I think that point should not be lost on people who choose to remain anonymous.

  21. another davis parent

    I think it needs to be pointed out again that money for facilities and money for teachers come from different funds and one cannot be used for the other. This is mandated by law not just our school district. I wish people would grasp that and stop making the same statements regarding this matter over and over again! Also, it would be nice if locals could build the stadium as volunteers- that would be fabulous-however, those community work days are a thing of the past. Because of the unions and their regulations, it is my understanding that this is not possible. The unions have it in their contracts that the work must be done by union workers.
    I think the current superintendant, his staff, and our school board trustees are doing a wonderful job. Let’s not forget that it was just a few years ago that this district was in shambles after our last administration left. They have had to simultaneously dig us out of that fiasco as well as deal with this current financial crisis. We can all sit here and second guess them, but quite frankly, none of us have the knowledge or experience that these people bring to the table. While it’s fine to act as “back seat drivers” I think we all need to have a little trust and faith in these people. It’s kind of like second guessing a coach and yet never having played the sport.

  22. wdf

    Rick E:
    “And what about the $10 million DHS track/stadium upgrade?”

    I have not heard that the stadium will cost the district $10 million. The school board authorized the staff to look into securing a $4 million loan at a meeting at the Feb. 5 meeting:


  23. Not Standing For It Anymore

    “While it’s fine to act as “back seat drivers” I think we all need to have a little trust and faith in these people. It’s kind of like second guessing a coach and yet never having played the sport.”

    I have to agree w Rick Entrikin on this one. We have put our trust in the DJUSD over and over again, and what did we get for it? A salary raise for Bruce Colby, and talk of renovating the DHS stadium, as there is talk of firing huge numbers of teachers. This, after passing Measure W, and the DSF raising $1.7 million. Taxpayers don’t have limitless deep pockets.

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