Teachers and Parents Speak Out on Teacher Compensation Issues

Photos show a packed and overflowing crowd in the community chambers, a full hallway and a full conference room on Thursday night/ courtesy photo

In Friday’s article, the Vanguard covered the remarks of DTA President Dianna Huculak to the school board, but a few dozen people also spoke on Thursday with dozens more packed into community chambers and spilling into the hallway and the conference room.

A sixth grade teacher at Patwin, in her third year teaching, said she was a rare case of a student teacher who stayed at DJUSD to work in the district.  But she said, “To be honest Davis was not my first choice of district.”  She said, “While I love my site, I sacrifice a lot to work in this district.”

She said, “Like many DJUSD teachers, I can’t afford to live here so I bought a house to live in Sacramento last year.  I brave the causeway each day, giving even more of my time to a district that doesn’t value its teachers.”

The teacher said that this summer she got engaged to a teacher from Sac City.  “But instead of getting married next year like we wanted to – we’re getting married in two weeks so that I can join his health insurance because his district just a few miles away offers fully covered health care for him and his spouse.

“The low pay and benefits of this district affects us all in real ways and ultimately has the based effect on our students,” she said.

The teacher then read a statement from a teacher who lives in town with her 12-year-old daughter, a student in our schools.  She said that they live in a two-bedroom rented duplex.  “My daughter and I must share a room so that we can rent out the other one,” she read.  “We’ve been in our rental for six years, if we had to find a new place now, we could not afford Davis.  We rarely buy new clothes.  We can’t afford a district health plan.  I’ve had to find the cheapest plan outside the district that works with our doctor.”

She said that she has a $6000 deductible and that if she put her daughter on the district plan, they would have no money left over.

“As a district employee, the basic needs of my daughter and me should be met so that I can focus on meeting the needs of each of my students – basic needs are the bare minimum,” she said.

The teacher then added, “This statement speaks to the fact that when you undervalue our teachers – our students suffer.  We fail to live up to our reputation for providing excellent education when our district doesn’t prioritize our teachers and students.  I urge you to move this issue to the top of your priority list.”

Ron Glick pointed out that the district has a year-end balance of 11.9 percent reserve, and, of that, eight percent has not been spent. By law, he said, “the district is required to have a three percent reserve. That means that you have 267 percent of the minimum amount of reserve in the budget. You have it in the bank. You could change board policy and say you don’t need an eight percent budget reserve, you only need a three percent budget reserve.”

He said, “That would free up five percent of your budget, which works out to about $10,000 a teacher. You have the money! Spend it!”

(Editor’s note: while he made a strong statement, I do not believe the reserve end-balance represents ongoing money that could be used to increase teacher salaries on an ongoing basis.)

Ron Glick, a former teacher, said he was in a teachers’ strike once.  “The road this district is going down is not a pretty one.  People that were friends for years never spoke again.  People who were at the top of their game, who had 30 years and were excellent teachers, chose to retire.  People that were young and enthusiastic left the district.”

He added, “If you guys don’t reduce the amount of the reserve and spend some of that money on the obvious needs of these teachers you are headed on the road to perdition.”

A retired teacher who taught for 32 years in Vacaville and works with the credentialing department in UC Davis said she and her wife have a senior at Davis High and a 9th grader at Emerson.

“I want to talk about the opportunity costs of not paying your teachers enough money,” she said.  She talked about her credentials and said, “I think I would have been a real asset to Davis Joint
Unified, but I didn’t want to teach here.  Why?  Because I couldn’t afford to.  I can barely afford to live here much less teach here.”

The opportunity cost she was talking about has to do with her work in the social science department at UC Davis.  “They have put out some excellent teachers…  I have placed over 16 social studies teachers in Vacaville Unified School District… We do not consider Davis Joint Unified when we look at to place a teacher in a district.  We don’t consider Davis first because you don’t respect them enough to pay them what they’re worth.”

Brian Williams said he was not impressed with the response by the district to the teacher compensation issue, “going out and asking all of us in the public to submit ideas does not really strike me as leadership from the school district.”  Those in the community have not studied the intricacies of school finance.

“It doesn’t come across to me as a really serious effort to try to find solutions,” he said.  “My general impression is that the district is prioritizing maintaining programs over actually paying the staff.  Programs are great, they’re important, we value them, but the foundation of our good programs is qualified quality teachers and the staff to support them.”

Another parent said, “I demand that you work immediately to secure a contract with our teachers.”  She argued, “They deserve better and we’re here to demand that they get it.”

She said that our teachers must be the first priority in the budget.  “I will not vote for facility improvements or special programs until our teachers have a secure contract with a better wage.  And I will not vote to reelect any school board member who delays or blocks a contract with a better wage.

“Securing a contract for our teachers should not be a political fight,” she continued.  “But if comes to taking sides, I’m with the teachers.”

She argued that the three percent salary increases for the Superintendent and other high-ranking members of the district should not be paid.  “According to the district website the Superintendent must have a satisfactory or better evaluation in order to receive his raise.  I do not believe he has done a satisfactory job this academic year.  Our teachers have no contract – that’s not satisfactory.”

She noted that her son’s fourth grade class has not been taught by a teacher for 31 academic days, and “that’s not satisfactory.”

She said, “Their classroom substitute is paid $90 a day.  That works out to minimum wage.  With no benefits.  That’s not satisfactory.  As of today, she’s made approximately $2970.00 for two months of full time work.  That is not satisfactory.”

In contrast, the top administrators have averaged over $35,000 for the first two months of school.  “That’s more than $100 an hour.  That’s more than these substitutes make in a day.  That is not satisfactory and I am far from satisfied.”

She said, “If our teachers made salaries that were competitive wages, competitive salaries for the administrators would not be an issue.  But as things now stand, the disparity is unacceptable and must be part of the larger conversation.”

Cameron Jones is a first grade teacher at Birch Lane.  He takes home $2465 a month in his sixth year on the pay scale, and said he is working on his masters to move along in his step and column.  After working seven hours a day teaching, he comes home, plays with his son, and then spends three hours a night working on his master’s degree.

He said, “My parents give me $1000 a month and we still can’t make ends meet in Davis.”  He said a one-bedroom apartment was $1050 a month plus utilities.  It was, at that time, more than half his take pay (he made $2000 a month previously).  “You are not paying teachers enough to live.”

He continued, “I buy my clothes at Goodwill, Walmart.  I do my grocery shopping at Grocery Outlet.  And we still don’t make ends meet at the end of the month without my parents giving me money.”

Mr. Jones said, “It’s the epitome of white privilege, but it’s the only reason I can help Davis be inclusive and make sure everyone belongs.

“The rubber meets the road in the school district with the teachers,” he said.  He said he’s interviewed elsewhere and has an offer pending on the table elsewhere.  He said West Sac is hiring and he would take home $600 more a month.  “Where’s my motivation to stay?”

He said, “I love Davis.”  He said, “This is what I want to do and you guys are making it so that I can’t.  This is probably my last year in Davis.”

—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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  1. Howard P

    Am thinking this lead to the real problem… Admin

    In contrast the top administrators have average over $35,000 for the first two months of school.  “That’s more than $100 an hour.

    The City Manager oversees a ‘clientele’ of over 65,000… DJUSD  oversees a ‘clientele’ of over what?

    Yes the DJUSD has more employees, but far less clients.

    DJUSD does not have their data published as to total comp on sites such as Transparent CA.

    Compare, if you can, City Mgr compensation to DJUSD superintendent… same for top level subordinates…

    Compare the difference between City Mgr compensation to that of average City Employee, vs DJUSD superintendent to that of average teacher, and/or average employee.  Those would be interesting, and perhaps “telling” numbers… some would, looking at those numbers, would suggest a huge increase for DJUSD employees… I suggest a huge decrease in Admin compensation, which then could be used to better compensate those “who deliver the goods”… teachers and other ‘line’ staff…


  2. Tia Will

    I do not believe he has done a satisfactory job this academic year. “

    Honest question as I am ignorant on this subject. What are the objective criteria by which the “satisfactory” ranking of the Supervisor is determined ?  Listing or  reference to these criteria would be fine.

    1. Howard P

      There is none… even DTA would oppose that… it might spill over to teachers…

      Teachers tend to resist (following DTA and CTA philosophies) ratings that are used to determine employee status, including compensation.  I won’t say, “it is what it is”, but as other posters have pointed out, not likely there will be changes (except revenue proposals) in DJUSD.

  3. Tia Will

    A couple of thoughts on the broader picture with regard to teachers. My daughter has her master’s and specialty certification. Often we hear the comment, but teacher’s salaries do not reflect that they have the summer “off”. What this attitude misses is the unpaid overtime that teachers put in during the school year.

    My daughter’s day consists of teaching one to two additional sections than were stated in her contract with up to 30 ish students in each section. The variability in classes covered is due to the hemorrhaging of teachers due to work conditions. This means that she has lost her prep time. Given that she has papers to correct and lesson plans to draw up it means that she works every night for at least two to three hours and puts in around the same amount of time on the weekends. She has not yet been asked to teach outside her specialty which is science, but other teachers at her school have been forced to teach outside their areas of expertise obviously adversely affecting the quality of education.

    My daughter is relatively well paid in her district but still faces these challenges. I can only imagine what it must be like for Davis teachers to be facing the same situation while being significantly underpaid with no contract.

    1. Howard P

      Actually, Tia, the teachers have a contract… the one in place as of June 30, 2017…

      The folk who fix the roads, make sure you have water to your house, a working sewer system to take your wastes away, a drainage system so that you do not flood, are under an imposed contract (DCEA) for nearly four years…

      All city employees “don’t have a contract” by your definition.

      Cry me a river.

  4. Jim Hoch

    I’d dock Bowes his raise just for his 10 minute pedantic droning each meeting which seems intended to keep parents away. In addition he has not addressed the rumors about the AIM program at Willet which is also a significant failing.

  5. Michelle Millet

    “Their classroom substitute is paid $90 a day.  That works out to minimum wage.  With no benefits.  That’s not satisfactory.  As of today, she’s made approximately $2970.00 for two months of full time work.  That is not satisfactory.”

    I don’t believe this is accurate. When a substitute teacher has been teaching in the same classroom for over 20 consecutive days their pay jumps from the day-to-day rate which starts at $104/day to a long term sub rate which is approximately $200/day. They are paid the difference between the two rates for the first 20 days retroactively. So this teacher has been making about $200/day.

    1. Keith O

      Thank you Michelle.  I think it would be wise to be skeptical of some of the stories given.  After all they’re trying to rally for more pay and benefits.  Also we always tend just hear the most extreme cases.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Don’t get me wrong, I think our teachers should be paid more. As a substitute teacher and parent of two kids in the district I’ve seen first hand how hard our teachers work and I can say with no reservations that they are grossly underpaid. Those of us who support pay increases need to be sure we use accurate information in order not to discredit ourselves and ultimately undermine our efforts.

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