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San Diego Unified – Teacher Pay Cuts

November 1, 2011

I have mentioned before in these pages that the Union (SDEA) was going to need to reopen contract negotiations in order to save teaching jobs within SDUSD.  Some people said I was wrong and that this wouldn’t have to happen, but to my mind I simply have never seen any other way that the budget could be balanced if the union did not come back to the table.  My prediction is that SDEA will be forced into reopening the negotiations.

Now, barring some kind of Hail Mary money coming out of Sacramento which at this point seems like the chances are slim to none, with slim leaving town last week, I think that SDEA should agree to talk, they should offer to forego the agreed upon raises which would go into effect next year – this will go a long way towards closing the budget gap.  If they don’t, more teachers will lose their jobs and kids will suffer in the classrooms.  Also, I am now working at a district which has up to 30 kids in kinder – 2nd grade and they are doing just fine.  This is something that SDUSD will have to consider as well.

Here is the latest from the Voice of San Diego:

School board member Scott Barnett today released his plan for keeping San Diego Unified out of insolvency, proposing a 10 percent pay cut for employees and a November 2012 parcel tax to restore some of that lost pay.

With the school board facing difficult, looming budget decisions, Barnett said his plan would stave off the most unpopular cuts, avoiding school closures, land sales and the draining of the district’s reserves. Teacher layoffs, and the resulting class-size inflation, could still occur if the state makes midyear cuts to education this year, he said.

“The decisions that this board makes or doesn’t make in the next few weeks could affect not just the upcoming year but potentially decades into the future,” Barnett said.

According to Barnett, his plan would:

• Restore the five days of school lost in the most recent contract with teachers, an added cost of $17 million, and maintain the regular pay increases employees get for their experience at the district.

• Eliminate the proposed across-the-board pay increases that go into effect next year, saving $21 million that year, $22 million the next and $43 million ongoing. He would also restructure health care to save $12 million, charging a premium for employees who chose providers beyond a free Kaiser plan.

• Cut pay 10 percent beginning July 1, saving $60 million a year. There would be a sliding scale that would cut a larger percent for those making more than $150,000 and a smaller amount for those on the bottom end of the pay scale.

• Put a $50-per-parcel tax before voters to raise $60 million a year and restore the employee pay cuts.

The cuts in pay and benefits would require the labor unions to head back to the table to renegotiate, something the district cannot force them to do. So far, the teachers union has rejected the district’s pleas to reopen talks, saying there are better ways for the district to fix its financial problems.

Barnett said he confirmed all the figures in his plan with the district’s chief financial officer.

Fellow school board member John Lee Evans called a subsequent press conference to disagree with Barnett’s plan. Evans, who’s been friendlier to employee groups than Barnett, did say that the employee pay increases need to go away and that the shorter school year, which saves on employee costs, should continue. It’s set to expire at the end of this year.

We’ll have more later. Check back.

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