By Victor Lagunes
On Thursday over 200 certificated and classified staff—members of DTA and CSEA respectively—gathered in solidarity at Central Park and then walked over to the school board meeting to advocate for the best for our students; right now they need high quality educators and staff.
The following was delivered by President Lagunes to the Board of Education.
Good evening President Adams, trustees, Superintendent Best, student trustees, and to the greater community tuning in at home.
Davis TA believes that our students deserve the best. DJUSD must invest in students by investing in attracting and retaining great educators.
Over the last years, we have been able to work collaboratively and with trust to make progress for our schools. In 2019 we began work on the passage of Measure G, and with the support of our community—who were willing to invest in our ability to attract and retain teachers—it successfully passed.
This coincided with the start of lockdown and the COVID pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, DTA has advocated for safety as a #1 priority and for the continuity of student education. We were able to partner in these efforts, successfully. And that was a point of pride for all of us.
But the recent actions of this board demonstrate to many of us that this time is passing—this “era of good feelings” as you might call it (history nerds, that’s for you), is eroding—because while we educators have continued to act to give our students the best, this board has acted unfairly.
It is unfair that this board directs the district to offer only fractions of the immense funds the California legislature approved in this year’s budget. It is regressive: it leads to us falling further behind rather than keeping pace; it goes against all the statements of intent that were communicated to the public during measure G; it means we aren’t competitive. We believe our students deserve the best. They need highly qualified teachers in all their classrooms, and staff at their schools, and we will not achieve that unless we invest in attracting and retaining highly qualified educators. The current stance of this board will not make that possible.
It is unfair that this board states that it values the feedback and input of students and staff, and yet ignores the feedback when it comes to the secondary schedule and the needs of staff.
It is unfair that the district does not have accurate budget information to allow our bargaining teams to operate as they should—having conversations about matters of fact—in order to move the process forward. Moreover, it is unfair that as a district, you are willing to increase spending on contracted employees and then indicate that there is less funding for salaries of all current DJUSD employees. Our students deserve the best, and our permanent staff are the ones who need to be prioritized to give them that.
It is unfair that this board makes considerations about the reserve, as you did during the last meeting, and think of a rainy day fund for the future. The storm is here: it’s called staff shortages. It was an issue that was already visible before the pandemic and has only gotten worse. Now is the time to invest funds so that no student is negatively impacted by an unfilled position or an overworked teacher. We have to be more attractive. We must be more competitive compared to our neighboring districts in order to provide our students with the best new educators and keep the experienced and dedicated professionals that we already have.
The educators of DTA have always dedicated themselves to the academic and socio-emotional growth of our students because students are the center of everything we do. We’ve been doing our part.
You must do yours. You have to do what is right for our students. Invest in attracting and retaining great educators, so we can give our students what they deserve: the best.