Parcel Tax Subcommittee Fleshes Out Plan to Vote on Parcel Tax for 2020 by June

The parcel tax subcommittee will have a series of efforts to outreach to the community between now and a mid May to early June vote on putting the parcel tax on the ballot for November 2020 – although having a March 2020 vote is still a possibility.

Joe DiNunzio put on the table eight critical questions he would like to see answered as part of the discussion.  He wants to know what spending categories are out of sync for the district with other benchmark district and to understand why the district is spending differently than other comparaible districts.

He wants to understand what the opportunities are for restructuring the spending – if that is a course they want to take.  Mr. DiNunzio continued to point out that at the end of the day – he wants to put out options even though they may well decide to reject them and go forward with a revenue measure.

He further wants to understand what revenue categories are out of sync with other benchmark districts and understand why that is the case.  Once again he would like to explore possibilities for restructuring the revenue.

On teacher salary he wants to understand what the delta looks like between Davis and other regional districts?  How much additional spending is it going to take to take it to the regional average?  Above average?

Finally he said, he would like to explore several potential ways to get us there.  The first would be an increase in class size.  The second would be a cut in teachers and program.  Finally they could look at ways to save and then revenue enhancements.

Once again, he argued he does not foresee supporting cuts to programs or class sizes but he wants to understand – and by extension – the community to understand the economic programmatic tradeoffs.

Mr. DiNunzio explained that Alan (Fernandes) is eager to keep our feet the fire, and said he supports Alan’s push and wants to aggressively get to a vote by the middle to end of May.

Alan Fernandes noted that one of his goals is to forecast out further.  He would really like this to be seen as a permanent solution and wants to push the parcel tax at least to ten years.

He wants to see a better job of communication by the district as to why we might be losing ground on LCFF and explain what the percentage difference is between DJUSD and other districts.

“We believe based on the LCFF that we will lose ground,” he said.  But wants it better explained as to why.

He further wants to give examples of ways in which other districts have reduced their costs and discussed a consultant he met with who has been able to do things like restructuring electricity tariff rates and waste contracts to save other districts save about $100,000.

The subcommittee discussed outreach to the city through both making public comments as well as the February 20 City-DJUSD two-by-two meeting.

For Joe DiNunzio a keep point is, “I don’t think the community fully appreciates the programmatic decisions we make” or the trade offs they will have to make.  He said, “We make decisions to offer things that other districts don’t.”

There was general discussion of the LCFF model which the district has no control over and disadvantages the district over other districts.  While at the same time, they acknowledge that they don’t gain traction by arguing that the district is disadvantaged here because the district clearly has advantages over other districts in providing services.

Key points that were made again is that, “The state is not coming in on a white horse riding to our rescue.”  The acknowledgement here is that the district will have to find local solutions.

Alan Fernandes said, “We had homework to do, we did our homework.”

He added, “This isn’t just a short-term problem, we have to figure out a longer term solution.”

Joe DiNunzio agreed with his colleague, “We need to talk about a permanent solution.”

At the same time, forecasting school funding and anticipating inflation long-term as well as state budget fluctuations will make this sort of challenge – tricky at best.

—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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14 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    It looks like DiNunzio is going to do the hard work of transparently laying out for the community the hard realities and choices DJUSD faces. I applaud his efforts.

  2. Don Shor

    Why are other districts able to pay teachers more?

    How do administrative salaries in DJUSD compare to other districts? In aggregate and individually?

    If other districts raise pay, will DJUSD be expected to keep up? Is there a mechanism for that in any proposed parcel tax (indexed to inflation, etc.)?

    1. Mark West

      “If other districts raise pay, will DJUSD be expected to keep up?”

      Isn’t that the basis for the entire discussion, the presumed need to keep pace with the neighbors? Especially when the discussion includes going above the average.

      1. David Greenwald

        THis is why I think the approach here is appropriate.  The first question is what are other districts doing and how are they able to pay more to teachers.  
        But that’s only part one.  The next question is how do you close that gap.
        This reminds us that we need to articulate the harm of the gap more – the basic premise is lack of teacher retention, transfer, and concern that quality of teachers will decline.
        To answer the question – if districts raise their pay will DJUSD be expected to keep up – probably depends on whether those increases lead to a competitive disadvantage.

        1. Mark West

          I agree with Joe’s approach because it is a comprehensive look at the problem, examining both the cost and revenue structure. It also appears to be a process that will bring some much-needed transparency to the District. It is critical, however, that the alternative approaches (ie, cost reductions) be approached seriously and completely, and not turn this into a ‘rubber stamp’ for greater taxes. 

          “the basic premise is lack of teacher retention, transfer, and concern that quality of teachers will decline.”

          Teachers are not paid on the basis of the quality of their teaching, but simply on how long they have held the job. You are limiting your opportunity to improve the quality of the product when your approach to compensation is based on the average. We don’t pay good teachers sufficiently in our society, but we pay the poor ones far too much.

        2. Bill Marshall

          I agree with Mark W’s 10:24 post… unfortunately teachers’ unions will never accept “pay for performance/results” (might have to be ‘imposed’) for many reasons, some spurious, some somewhat legitimate.
          We should reward the most successful, as to results, and not worry too much about the marginal teachers.

  3. Don Shor

    A couple of years ago when the board was drastically reducing the GATE program, the superintendent basically promised that a significant percentage of teachers in the district would be trained for the differentiated instruction that many students would now require. Personally I was and remain dubious about the district’s actual commitment to that goal, and would love to hear an update as to how many teachers now have the specialized training for dealing with gifted students in classrooms of mixed learning styles. But more to the point, do teachers get an increase in pay for this training? Is there adequate retention of these trained teachers to meet a goal of sufficient expertise to meet the needs of gifted students?

    Similarly, if there is a plan in place to provide specialized counseling and trained teachers to try to narrow the achievement gap, is that factored into the budget? 

    In other words: is the present plan simply to maintain the current teaching staff at higher pay, or is there a plan to improve the district’s outcomes overall as well as improve the living standards of the teachers?

    1. Bill Marshall

      do teachers get an increase in pay for this training?

      Interesting question… others that follow from that:: is the training paid for by the district?  Is the time spent for the training paid for by the district?  If both the first are “yes” what entitles trained teachers to greater compensation? Is there any requirement for the teachers to demonstrate that their performance/value to students was improved due to the training?
      I think those are legitimate followup questions…

      1. Jim Hoch

        Teachers who receive this training have a higher value to other districts and therefore need a raise to retain. Otherwise nobody will stay after being trained.

    2. David Greenwald

      “In other words: is the present plan simply to maintain the current teaching staff at higher pay, or is there a plan to improve the district’s outcomes overall as well as improve the living standards of the teachers?”

      As I understand it, there is a belief by the board (one that I increasingly share) that without closing the compensation gap, the district will be non-competitive to attract and retain teachers and therefore the district outcomes overall will decline.

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