Teachers took to the streets on Wednesday evening at three locations in Davis – Mace and Chiles, Covell and Pole Line, and 5th and B. Teachers have been pushing for pay increases to close a compensation gap with other school districts, and many have warned that they are being priced out of Davis.
Davis Teachers Association President Dianna Huculak explained to the Vanguard, “The purpose of this action is to raise community awareness about our issues, about contract negotiations so that the community at large has an understanding about what’s going on.”
The teachers remain in contract negotiations, she told the Vanguard.
“So far we are not happy with their proposals,” she explained. “They offered one percent one time and two percent another time, but nothing ongoing.”
At this point, Ms. Huculak explained, the district’s offers have not “really addressed the five percent wage gap that they’ve identified.” The one-time wage hike would operate “like a bonus.
“One percent is basically $450, everybody would get a $450 check. But that doesn’t go onto salary schedule so it has no impact on retirement or wages over time.”
Ms. Huculak noted, “We are definitely talking about a parcel tax right, but I think the district doesn’t feel that it has money to offer teachers even though they have ongoing money coming in both from LCFF [Local Control Funding Formula] as well as ongoing funds SELPA [Special Education local Planning Area], because they’ve been overpaying for SELPA and getting things and money returned.
“There’s definitely new money coming in that they could dedicate to teachers’ salaries but they don’t seem to want to do that,” she said.
Maria Clayton, DJUSD spokesperson, told the Vanguard, “There is a passion for public education in Davis and that is because of the quality of the educators in our community. Our employees are the heart of our organization and the relationships they build with students make a difference every day.”
She acknowledged the compensation gap, noting, “In Davis, we have a compensation gap; this is no secret. Because we value our employees, we are committed to closing this regional compensation gap for our employees. This commitment has been explicitly stated in public by the Board of Education and is embedded in our Strategic Plan.”
She blamed the gap primarily on the state funding system and LCFF, which she said disadvantages Davis.
“The employee compensation gap is a result of a state funding model that has disadvantaged Davis,” said Ms. Clayton. “We receive below average funding—about 87% of the state average for a unified school district. What this means is that we have less money than our regional neighbors to do the things we need to do. With growing pensions costs, a looming teacher shortage and little change on the horizon in the state funding formula, we need alternatives to raise revenue and/or reprioritize expenditures in order to increase employee compensation.”
The district is looking to accomplish this closure of the wage of gap without cutting programs.
Said Maria Clayton: “It is because we value our employees that we don’t want to cut the robust programs or the people associated with those programs that have come to define and differentiate a Davis education.
“The Board of Education is currently discussing an ongoing parcel tax for Employee Compensation as a possible item for the November 2018 ballot, to raise the funds required to close the regional compensation gap. Polling on this item will likely occur at the beginning of February,” she said. The public can learn more about how DJUSD is prioritizing employee compensation at www.djusd.net.
This evening, the school board is looking to provide direction to the district to push for legislative sponsorship of changes to the parcel tax laws.
The district will be looking to possibly clarify California statutes in the Education Code that would allow parcel taxes to be placed on the ballot by “registered voters just as city and county voters can do and which is meant to take advantage of the California Supreme Court’s recent City of Upland court case, that clarified the voting threshold for such measures are a majority vote.”
In addition, they are looking at adding a parcel tax exemption for school district employees. “This idea would allow a district to provide incentives to work and live in the community they teach in and make housing more affordable,” the district said.
Finally, they would ask to allow “school districts with parcel taxes to require inter-district transfer students to pay the annual parcel tax to the district.”
In the meantime, the action on Wednesday drew from a broad and large audience.
“These are teachers,” she said, with a mix of parents and students well. “Three different locations across Davis just to help spread the awareness, but these are people that are concerned about schools in Davis. There’s a teaching shortage, our salary schedule isn’t competitive, so we lose a lot of teachers every year which ultimately impacts education for children.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting
—David M. Greenwald reporting