Board Member Fernandes Reacts to Surprising Change in Measure G’s Results

Alan Fernandes in December 2018 was pushing this issue

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


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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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24 Comments

  1. JosephBiello

    I am glad Measure G passed, but let’s interpret what is happening here.

    The apparent problem G was designed to solve is the pay gap for NEW teachers  – which is significantly larger than the pay gap for teachers with longer tenure.  Closing this gap (the retention/recruitment problem) is what proponents of  Measure G argued for.

    We could significantly close the gap (what is it, like 12% for early career and 4% later?) by dividing the money in a way that all of the teachers would have comparable salaries (or the same % difference regardless of experience) as surrounding school districts.

    Instead, everyone gets a bump.  There will still be a small (now smaller, or possibly non-existent) gap at the higher salaries and STILL a larger salary gap at lower salaries.   The district could have worked it so that there was a 4% gap across all salary scales.

    So, proponents of Measure G, the School Board, and the Teacher’s Union were all being disingenuous in selling the measure to the public.

     

    ———-

    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.”

    ———–

    1. Ron Oertel

      Instead, everyone gets a bump.  There will still be a small (now smaller, or possibly non-existent) gap at the higher salaries and STILL a larger salary gap at lower salaries.   The district could have worked it so that there was a 4% gap across all salary scales.

      So, proponents of Measure G, the School Board, and the Teacher’s Union were all being disingenuous in selling the measure to the public.

      That’s essentially one of the points I made, earlier.

      Is it any surprise that it was designed in the manner in which you note?

  2. Ron Glick

    At the bottom of the pay scale the $2900 is around 6% annualized at the top its around 3%. Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it an improvement? Yes.

    If the district and community want to continue closing the gap at the bottom it can continue flat rate increases over time instead of percentage increases. Doing so will continue to compress the pay schedule.

    1. JosephBiello

      Ron, come on, you’re talking to me here.   You can simultaneously wish to improve things for teachers and be disingenuous.

      There is no denying that these numbers were not spelled out explicitly.  When people wonder next time why “a ballot measure narrowly failed”, you can look to these subtle “Bait and switches” as your answer.

      FWIW, I supported the measure, WHILE I knew full well that the Measure G folks were being disingenuous.

      Its sad because $2900 is a less significant percentage increase for those with longer tenure and (obviously) a much greater percentage increase for those with shorter tenure.    Teachers with higher salary, and more likely to own their houses for a long time, have less fixed costs (i.e. mortgage, etc) so that the $2900 will be less useful for them than… new teachers with lower salary.

      If you want to use it as an effective recruiting and retention tool, then you scale it properly.  If you want to cave to the union, then you give a flat rate increase.

      I understand that we didn’t want to sacrifice the good for the perfect here – they need an increase.   However, I like to point out when people are pulling a bait and switch.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      1. Ron Glick

        Joe, in recent memory whenever there was a raise for teachers it was done on a flat percentage basis so those with seniority got the biggest raises making the disparity between beginning and senior teachers worse. This flat rate increase is therefore perhaps a less than perfect improvement.

        Attracting and retaining teachers is not simply for new teachers. I know of teachers who left here to teach in Elk Grove even though they had many years in this district and homes here. Still they felt it was worth it to leave for better pay and a higher pension despite the commute. While those with the least seniority face special problems, high housing and medical insurance costs, and perhaps student loans, those nearing the end of their careers have needs too. They may not be as dire but they are real.

        There may be some merit to your argument that it wasn’t easy to find out how much each person would get. I don’t know why this happened this way as I wasn’t privy to those conversations. So assigning motives and calling those motives disingenuous involves some amount of speculation but I personally won’t go there.

        I’m sure  your analysis of how to help those in most need is correct but calling out a political process for being political and less than perfect is sort of redundant. As they say you never want to see laws or sausages get made.

        As a retired teacher I can tell you with a high degree of certainty though that the people who teach in DJUSD are thrilled by this vote. The money will be a nice pop and hopefully make life a little easier for people. However, the morale improvement, knowing that the people of this community value the role of our teachers play, will mean so much to so many. It adds a great deal of value to what the voters have done that goes far beyond the monetary benefits.

         

  3. Ron Oertel

    Every teacher’s pay will go up by $2900 annually.

    Despite the plethora of advocacy articles, this is the first mention of an actual dollar amount that I’ve seen on the Vanguard.

    I noted this previously, as well.

  4. Keith Olsen

    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.

     

    For more future parcel taxes?

    1. Ron Oertel

      Ironically, all of the school district parcel taxes will make it more difficult for younger, less-wealthy families (with young children) to locate in communities like Davis.  Especially new (market-rate) housing, which is (also) subject to the full impact of CFDs.

      But hey, it’s “for the kids”.

      1. Hiram Jackson

        Many low income families locate in Davis by operating within the college student economy — living in apartments that normally cater to college students, shopping at Family Dollar and Trader Joe’s. Sometimes they take advantage of Section 8 housing or affordable housing programs. I know because at one time that was my situation. I also tutor students that often come from such situations.

        1. Ron Oertel

          If they’re in Section 8 or Affordable housing, they are not subject to parcel taxes (either directly, or indirectly).

          Nor are they subject to CFDs, the true “elephant in the room” in terms of ongoing (new, market-rate) housing costs – the majority of which (once again) go to DJUSD.

          Let’s face it – Davis’ family housing is in Woodland, specifically Spring Lake.  (Probably for new teachers, as well.)  Where they pay no school district parcel taxes.

          This latest parcel tax is further “icing on the cake”, regarding this trend.  For the purpose of avoiding “right-sizing” Davis schools.

          I support the principle of CFDs – that is, new residents should pay for their own costs.  Either that, or include it in the price of the housing in the first place.

        2. Ron Oertel

          CFD’s go for facilities, not teacher/staff salaries.

          “Normal” people don’t “slice and dice” parcel taxes and CFDs for DJUSD. 

          They just pay them.

          1. Don Shor

            “Normal” people don’t “slice and dice” parcel taxes and CFDs for DJUSD.

            They just pay them.

            Informed voters learn the difference.

        1. Ron Oertel

          No, it isn’t.

          If it was, the parcel tax would go directly to the students.

          It’s for teachers.  Including the ones who don’t need it.

          New teachers are going to live in Spring Lake, and commute to Davis (with their own kids, to attend Davis schools).

          Davis is a “patsy” for Woodland. So be it.

        2. Hiram Jackson

          If you don’t have teachers, then it’s a detriment to the students.  If teachers don’t earn enough, they don’t stick around.  In comments elsewhere, you appeared to acknowledge this.

          Education doesn’t equal giving money to students.

  5. Ron Oertel

    The CFDs and parcel taxes for DJUSD are housing costs.

    That’s one reason why younger, less-wealthy families with children (who don’t qualify for Section 8 or Affordable housing) can’t afford places like Davis.

    You’d think that those associated with DJUSD might be concerned about increasing those costs, when they claim that it’s “for the kids”.

    1. Don Shor

      That’s one reason why younger, less-wealthy families (who don’t qualify for Section 8 or Affordable housing) can’t afford places like Davis.

      Easily solved with a new subdivision.

    2. Hiram Jackson

      It depends on what you want.  I lived in the low-income economy in Davis for a while.  I don’t live in a particularly spacious home right now, but it’s what I want.  If having more house for your money is more important, then you probably live elsewhere.  You assess your personal values and act and vote accordingly.

    3. Ron Oertel

      Easily solved with a new subdivision.

      That’s where the CFDs are highest!

      And of course, there are no DJUSD parcel taxes, when they live outside of Davis.

      The more you increase the CFDs and parcel taxes, the more that families with children will flee Davis (while simultaneously attending Davis’ over-sized schools).

      Of course, the significantly lower purchase price to begin with would ensure that, regardless.

      Hilarious.

      1. Hiram Jackson

        Do you have kids?  If so, how did you handle their education?  I ask because perhaps you can demonstrate an appropriate example for others to follow?

  6. Ron Glick

    “Let’s face it – Davis’ family housing is in Woodland, specifically Spring Lake…”

    I love it when you condemn the unintended consequences of the policies you support.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Ron G.  It’s those associated with the school district who are supporting those policies.

      If it was up to me, I’d right-size Davis’ schools. (And if it was really up to me, I’d have parents pay for more of the costs, vs. all of the tax breaks/incentives they receive. But, I realize that this concept is unpopular, on here.)

      But, I do support new residents paying for their own costs – regardless of where they live.  (That’s one of the results of Proposition 13.)

      Another result is likely a reduction in the number of families with children (everywhere), unless they can afford that choice.  (Again, not something I’m opposed to.)

      I think some on here are misunderstanding my reaction, regarding the parcel tax increase. I’m just noting some of the results.

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