A Stop-Loss, Not a Raise

teacherby the DTA Executive Board

Recently the Davis Teachers Association voted to ratify a tentative agreement with the Davis Joint Unified School District. This agreement brings about a 2% increase to our members’ salary scales along with a 2% one-time payment. It is the first increase in the better part of a decade, and it comes after a 2.7% salary reduction a few years ago.

This is not truly, however, a raise but a partial cost of living adjustment. What this increase does is cause our teachers and other members to fall behind the cost of living a little more slowly. As we stated to the Board of Education in public comment at the beginning of this school year, “…tonight’s consent calendar contains an unaudited actuals report that shows that ‘The Total General Fund ending balance of $11.9m is better than projected by $2m.’ It is a good thing to have a favorability, especially coming out of a severe fiscal crisis.

But our members have seen no favorability. For the better part of a decade we have seen our salaries stagnate, with no increase to the salary scale at all, and in that time a one year cut of 2.7%, during which year the District actually increased its reserves. In reality, each year our salaries have declined in real dollars as the cost of living has increased. This does not even take into account the increased out-of-pocket costs of health care premiums, with some of our members paying more than $1,000 a month out of pocket for their benefits. It also does not include increased class sizes, responsibilities, caseloads, expectations, and many more concerns piled upon us as we were told to do more with less.”

The District is now financially better off than it was when it showed that $2,000,000 favorability. While we hear the District’s affirmations that the new state funding formulas still do not make the District whole, neither does the 2% increase make our members whole—far from it.

Now that DTA and the DJUSD have made a start, we urge the District to make its employees and their compensation a priority in the upcoming years as the District’s financial outlook has improved. We urge that they show how much they value their employees, heeding the words of Thomas Paine: “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

DTA Executive Board: Blair Howard, Frank Thomsen, Cathy Haskell, Ruthie Bowers, Connie Alexich, Tim Paulson, Gail Mitchell

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Sam

    I think you should be a little more honest. You somehow have forgotten to mention that your salary schedule has automatic step increases. So unless you have been teaching for 20+ years you have been getting annual increases in your pay over the past decade. Also, you NEVER took a pay cut, you chose to work less days. There is a big difference. Did a group of people making over $46 per hour just write a letter asking for more money two days before my property tax bill with multiple additional assessments to pay those people is due just because the school district has a few extra dollars? Bold move.

      1. South of Davis

        We can’t forget that teachers can also get a raise if they get another degree (sometimes as easy as an on line class).

        Most people want good schools and to pay teachers a fair wage, but trying to “trick” voters can easily backfire and cause people to vote against more money for schools (even when most homeowners get back far more than they spend in increased home values).

        P.S. Looking at my tax bill with the “Paid” stamp on it in addition to my “regular taxes” I paid to the schools:
        Davis JUSD 2000 BD
        Los Rios CCD 2002 BD
        Davis JUSD Measure C
        Davis JUSD Measure E
        Davis JUSD CFD

          1. Mark West

            I seem to recall that these salary numbers are for roughly 9 months of work each year, less the many holidays and other periods of paid time off. Just another of the inconvenient facts that teachers never seem to want to discuss.

      2. Davis Progressive

        the inconvenient fact that many people making $35K a year are being asked to pay out $700 a month out of pocket for health care? that is pretty inconvenient.

      3. fyi

        Those are not inconvenient facts–the salary scale has not changed in all this time. People do move up the scale each year for ten years, then every other year for ten years, then never again. A very high percentage DJUSD teachers are at the top of the scale and will never receive another increase. The out of pocket benefit costs have increased so much that some young teachers have gone up a step in salary but taken home less money per month. I have seen the pay stubs.

        1. DT Businessman

          fyi, I sympathize. It would be nice to hear from the public sector employees that many of their private-sector counterparts have suffered that much and worse these past 6 years.

          -Michael Bisch

          1. Don Shor

            In case you were not aware of it, most private sector employees and business owners had significant loss of income over the last few years. And they (we) rarely have benefits anything like those of the public sector.

          2. Michelle Millet

            fyi seemed to be seemed to clarifying information regarding teacher compensation. I don’t see how that relates to salary declines in the private sector.

    1. Mark West

      I regret that too, and I look forward to the day when the teacher’s union allows teachers to be paid for the quality of work that they do rather than the number of years they have held a job.

          1. Michelle Millet

            I’ve given WDF1’s question lot of thought, and have not found a good answer. Parents, especially vocal and persistent ones, are a powerful and influential force in this district. I would not want teacher salaries to be at their mercy.

          2. Don Shor

            I’m not aware of school districts that have review processes run by parents. Usually it’s done by the principal. Sometimes there are peer evaluations. And parents don’t set salaries. But I’m not sure why parents being influential forces in school districts would be construed as a bad thing overall. They are, after all, the ones whose kids are being educated.
            The problem is, when we have these discussions it always ends in a stalemate. No system of teacher evaluation is ever acceptable.

          3. Michelle Millet

            I don’t think parental influence is necessarily in and of itself a bad thing. I think it becomes a problem when a vocal minority gets deferential treatment.

      1. Michelle Millet

        That would be nice. Who gets to decide the quality of the teachers work? Parents, administrators? Could they be denied a raise if a parent with enough authority complained enough about them? Maybe if teachers were safe from such fears then unions wouldn’t be necessary. Until then I’m not sure what better options exist.

        1. Mark West

          How do they do it for any other job Michelle? Usually the supervisor is involved, as generally are the HR specialists. It isn’t rocket science. Every teacher at a school site knows who the good teachers are, just as does the Principal. The argument that you cannot identify quality teaching is completely specious.

          1. Mark West

            Not sure why my comment is ‘awaiting moderation.’ Maybe Don is concerned I have commented on where he lives again…

          2. Mark West

            OK…now the ‘awaiting moderation’ text is gone from my previous post…it was a joke Don.

          3. Don Shor

            I actually have no idea why some posts get flagged by the spam filter. So I just release them as fast as I see them. If a post has a lot of links, it’s likely to get flagged. But a lot ‘await moderation’ for no reason I can discern. On the other hand, it is amazing how much spam this system catches. Dozens a day, hundreds a week. So the minor hassle is worth it.

          4. Michelle Millet

            I think recent events in the district have clearly shown that a supervisors recommendation/evaluation only goes so far when pitted against a powerful enough parent. It may not be rocket science, but it’s evident that a system that adequately protects coaches has not been put in place, so I’m skeptical about one that could protect teachers.

            I’m not saying that the current system is perfect, but give me an alternative that doesn’t come with the kind of consequences we have recently seen and I’ll be happy to consider it.

          5. Mark West

            The consequences that you are referring to go away if the School Board acts appropriately. The problem is not performance evaluation, it is a culture of micromanagement by individual members of the School Board, a culture that was commonplace long before Nancy Peterson was elected.

            None of this however has anything to do with the ability to rate the quality of the performance of the District’s employees, regardless of their title.

          6. Michelle Millet

            If what you are saying is true, that this a school board micromanagement issue, and that this is a persistent problem, it only goes to show that teachers need protection from it.

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