The issue of teacher compensation was not on the agenda last night for the school board meeting, but that didn’t stop a few dozen parents and teachers from coming to the meeting to speak during public comment.
It was so full that, at one point, the Vanguard received a note that “Davis parents and teachers showed up in force at School Board meeting and were refused entry by the fire (marshal).”
DTA President Dianna Huculak used her time as the DTA rep to read from a petition signed by 90 percent of all teachers in the district:
“We believe that the heart and soul of our school community is the relationships between teachers and students. We endeavor to ensure that every student continues to have caring, qualified, and committed teachers. DTA stands for stability, sustainability and student success.
“Therefore we urge you to support a fair contract that will benefit all students and our community. DJUSD must meaningfully address the district identified compensation gap and the unaffordable health care package.
“As our members are working under an expired contract, we ask the school trustees to show their support and respect for the educator community by seeking a clear and quick resolution. We hope that you share our values and sense of urgency to move forward and continue to build a stable and sustainable environment that enable students to thrive and succeed.”
She then added some of her own comments.
Ms. Huculak read a quote ascribed to Winston Churchill, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else.” She said, “The everything else that the Davis school district has tried led to 20 secondary sites, and mostly in core classes including science and math. Entire math and science departments working overtime. Years of teachers with caseloads over the 160 student limit.
“This year at Davis Senior High School one teacher has 20 extra students. Elementary classrooms beginning the year without a teacher. Cost prohibitive health care. A churning of teachers that has destabilized school sites and threatens the quality of the educational programs that we offer.
“The question I want to pose to you, the school board, is how does trying everything else rather than prioritizing students and educators serve our children? Does having teachers that do not have time to create new curriculum for the students because they are working without a prep period benefit our students? Or does it serve the district office? Either because having teachers working overtime saves them funds or it hides the fact that they were unable to fill a position.
“Teachers have to choose between supporting their family – or shouldn’t the district fairly compensate them for their work? Someone asked the question – what is another section of math or English if you’ve already taught five other sections that day? Because really, what are 35 more papers or tests to grade on top of the 160 papers and tests that you have already to grade?
“Does a teacher with 195 students serve the district goal of the positive socio-emotional development of children? How does that educator have time for that? Does packing students year after year after year into core classes serve student needs? Or is it a convenient solution for administrators who have a scheduling problem?
“Does it serve our community’s children to have them start the school year without a teacher or are we supposed to believe that we do not have an attract and retain problem? Because only one elementary class didn’t have a teacher.
“To me, to DTA, and the parents of children in that classroom, that is one class too many. Does it serve the families and children of our teachers to, after paying for health care, to have hardly anything to take home?
“Some may argue that this is about money, about parcel taxes, about LCAP, but make no mistake, this is about equity and it’s about prioritizing children by respecting the work of teachers in the district.
“And I know that our Davis community values our work and their children’s education. For years you have shown the Davis Teachers Association that you do not value and respect our work and by extension the learning environments of our children. For years, we have been asked to do more with less, to take on extra students to teach extra sections despite our contract.
“Meanwhile the district has claimed that there are no funds but that doesn’t stop them from giving raises for the highest paid administrators and hiring new administrators to work in the district office. Instead of asking teachers for ideas to save funds, it is time that the district office prioritizes educators and students.
“It is time that they be directed to do their job and come into bargaining with a meaningful offer that addresses the compensation gap and the shamefully expensive healthcare that our district currently offers.
“The Davis Teachers Association will accept nothing less. It is time that you the school board demand that our district does the right thing in bargaining and so too everything else, our students deserve it.”
Her remark was followed by comments from a number of parents and teachers during public comment. The Vanguard will have those comments in an upcoming article.
—David M. Greenwald reporting