With an Inflator Built into the Measure, Teacher Compensation Should Track with Other Districts
With perhaps between 1000 and 1500 ballots left to go, Measure G is now at 67.3 percent of the vote and, if the results end as they are now, after trailing the two-thirds mark most of the post-election period, they would push the parcel tax increase to victory—which would fund salary increases across the board for teachers.
We spoke on Sunday to Board Member Alan Fernandes.
“I feel very good about where we’re at,” Mr. Fernandes said, though he is not ready to “spike the ball in the end zone” just yet.
“I did believe we would get there, but I didn’t think we would open up a full percentage point in the last tally—and that’s what happened,” he said. He believes at this point it would “take an unknown statistical event to have it turn at this point.”
The pay increases are already negotiated. They were contingent on the measure passing.
“The next step in terms of the parcel tax negotiation is already all done,” he said, noting that they will have to appoint a committee. This increase will take effect in July, the next fiscal year.
“(The pay raise) will bump up in July,” he said. “They’ll see a raise.”
Every teacher’s pay will go up by $2900 annually.
Alan Fernandes explains that, by making it a flat increase it will increase the pay gap as a percentage more on the bottom range than the top range. The pay gap is a lot larger at the lower levels and closes markedly on the upper levels.
“Our newer teachers had a bit wider gap,” he said. “One of the ways we addressed that, every teacher got a flat dollar increase… starting July 1.”
This pay increase, Alan Fernandes said, puts the district at the level of compensation now for surrounding school districts.
“It’s sort of a moving target,” he acknowledged, but the basic point is that this should equalize the pay gaps with other districts and make DJUSD more competitive than it had been.
The interesting part of this is that they put an inflator on the pay increase “so this tracks with inflation,” Alan Fernandes explained. “There will be growth on this every year. It will be up to the district and the teachers… to negotiate how that growth is applied.
“The intent of this entire thing was to ensure that our teachers were paid at or above the averages,” he said. It will then fall to the oversight committee each year to track salaries in other districts to compute by how much the district needs to increase salaries in order to meet their obligations.
Once again it appears no matter how this ends up, that around 67 percent of the voters—give or take—will have supported another $200 per year parcel tax to make sure our schools are able to fairly compensate its teachers.
“We believe that the voters… are supportive of our public school system,” Alan Fernandes said. “In Davis they know the value that it brings back to them.
“This is a community that is totally supportive and all about public education,” he added. “Two-thirds is the highest standard that can be in place. As long as you meet that two-thirds threshold, it’s hard to argue otherwise that this community isn’t always willing to answer the call when our public school system needs something.”
He pointed out that they offered to the community a no-sunset, cost-of-living inflator to support our educators “and our community seems to have answered the call.”
Despite the apparent success of this measure, there was a lot of misunderstanding about how school funding works and why it appeared that teacher salaries were above average.
“I do not believe if the results hold and we win, that our public still fully understands the complexities and the challenges that we have,” he said. He believes that the No campaign tried to put out their position, but credits the voters for knowing what would put the district in the best position going forward.
There is a critical issue of how “Davis schools are funded relative to others” that the community really does not understand.
But he argued that part of the campaign was being able to sit down and talk to people, often one on one, and be able to explain the facts. “That’s when we moved people’s support,” he said. “I credit us for having done that job of providing a better education to the voters.”
He pointed out that the initial polling had support for this measure really soft at 64-65 percent.
“We had to move people,” he said. “The best way of moving them was to educate them about what this meant.”
For instance, he pointed out the opposition literally opened the paper and came to the conclusion that there would be $4 million more provided to DJUSD for teacher salaries.
“That’s not how it works,” he said, pointing out that figuring out how much a district gets is not straightforward. “Every district under the formula is treated a little differently.”
Those little differences compound the differentiation between the districts.
“We ran as good of a campaign as has been run in a parcel tax campaign,” he said.
At one point the results came in at 66.3 to 33.7 percent, and it would have failed. That illustrated just how high the hurdle actually is.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It is a travesty that the state of California basically funds our public education system to the minimum it has to under Prop. 98 and basically doesn’t give localities better tools to fund educational development.
“Literally we value, as a policy, buildings over people and programming,” he said. By that he meant that a bond measure that would fund facilities requires just 55 percent whereas a parcel tax that funds education and teachers requires a two-thirds vote.
And he said that would be something he wants to work on in the coming months with the state legislature.
In the meantime, the final results are due by April 8, a week from Wednesday, and we will see where Measure G finally ends up.
—David M. Greenwald reporting