SJTA Letter To School Board Supports ECE Redesign
And Warns Against Subcontracting Out
March 4, 2015
Madam President Costa:
I write to you and your colleagues to express SJTA’s unequivocal support of the joint recommendation to redesign Early Care and Education in San Juan and the financial investments associated with it. Innumerable studies of well-designed early care, early learning, and extended learning programs demonstrate that they produce long-term improvements in school success, including higher achievement test scores, lower rates of grade repetition and special education, and higher educational attainment.
High quality early care and learning programs are a smart long-term investment as studies show the achievement gap happens before kindergarten. Findings from a groundbreaking study show that children from poor households enter kindergarten with a listening vocabulary of 3000 words vs. 20,000 words from children in middle-income households. These findings indicate how essential early learning can be for disadvantaged children and how the learning gap is evident even prior to kindergarten.
We are positioned well in California, as this is an unprecedented time in terms of a surging economy and historic levels of revenue to the district. Moreover, LCFF empowers school districts to determine how to apportion dollars to best meet the needs of their students and hold them accountable for results. Many studies demonstrate that investing in early care and education yields a return on investment of up to $7 per public dollar contributed. Longitudinal findings from model early childhood programs further point to long-term academic and social benefits consisting of increased earnings, improved health, more positive family relationships, and reductions in remedial education, crime, and receipt of public assistance. High quality early care and learning programs more than pay for themselves in the longer term.
And nothing in the LCFF regulations preclude apportioning monies to Early Care and Early Learning. LAUSD Board of Education recently just committed to investing $34 million to support the needs of it youngest learners, making it the largest investment in ECE of LCFF funds in the state. Rethinking the use of our Title One monies is also a strategy districts around the country have utilized regarding extended learning time. Any thoughtful review of the literature strongly suggests that investing in high quality support for the most vulnerable of our children at the earliest onset makes financial sense.
An equally important matter is SJTA’s response to Board members’ inquiry regarding sub-contracting out for such services. High quality early learning programs have educated, engaged teachers and staff, a safe, healthy and child-friendly environment, small class sizes and teacher-to-child ratios, stimulating activities and appropriately structured routines. Our members are the ones that deliver this program each and every day.
The idea of subcontracting out services needs to be disregarded as any legitimate solution. SJTA believes that any effort in this area will constitute a grievance and unfair practice, as it will be seen as an attempt to undermine our current collective bargaining agreement. It was obviously considered as a way to save money by bypassing the current wage rate previously agreed to in the collective bargaining agreement. Any attempt to abrogate the right of our members to continue to do this work and pursue cheaper and less skilled labor will be seen as a unilateral reduction of a negotiated wage and an attempt to weaken our unit.
Finally, I acknowledge the Board’s fiscal responsibility to question all aspects of the plan put forward and fully respect their due diligence in this matter. In this an era of scarce public resources, San Juan must spend wisely and prioritize investments that pay off. As a school district, we cannot solve all of society’s ills or meet every need. But when the student need directly affects the learning, we must meet that challenge. The proposed ECE plan, which will be reviewed annually for the purpose of making necessary adjustments, is designed to meet these needs and be cost-effective for the system over the long-term. There is no better time for this investment.
San Juan Teachers Association
Cc: Greg Paulo, Lucinda Luttgen, Saul Hernandez, Mike McKibben, Kent Kern
Strong Schools | K-12 School Funding
Contract Ratification Now Complete!
We have ratified our contract with a 95% approval rate! And based upon the Superintendent's recommendation, the School Board has just voted unanimously to ratify the contract as well. A few of the highlights include:
- A salary increase of 4.5 percent, with 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 2014 and the remaining 1.5 percent effective Feb. 1, 2015. Retroactive payment will be received no later than Jan. 30, 2015.
- Class sizes will be reduced in K-3 to an average of 26.5 and a maximum of 27. There will also be reductions in 4-6 to an average of 26 with a maximum of 29. The reduction begins next year with kindergarten and first grade, then grows one grade level per year until fully implemented.
- An improvement to the extra assignment rate schedule to $36 per hour for members credited up to 10 years of experience and $46 per hour for those with 11+ years starting in July of 2015.
- Hiring additional nurse staffing.
- Increase of elementary prep time from 150 minutes to 160 minutes.
- A hearing aid benefit on both WHA and Kaiser plans beginning in the 2016 plan year.
SJTA Cites Progress As Bargaining Teams Continue To Meet
October 25, 2014
SJTA and the District continued to meet throughout last week to close the gap on many of the issues still on the table. The parties focused on increased salary options and clarifications of the legal implications for funding the new class size reduction program. "Unfortunately it is a slow process but we are not light years apart anymore," said Shannan Brown, SJTA President.
Although the bargaining sessions are confidential, SJTA will continue to inform our members by posting any new proposal by either party. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Monday, October 27. The teams are making every effort to finalize this agreement early next week.
District Makes Movement, But Proposal Still Falls Short
October 20, 2014
On Friday, October 17 the SJTA Bargaining team received a new offer from the district. The offer consisted of the following:
- 2.5% retro salary increase (as of July 2014)
- 1.75% salary increase beginning February 2015 (this represents an increase of 3.375% in 2014/15 and which results in ongoing 4.25% beginning in 15/16)
- Grade Span Adjustment at the elementary level TK – 5/6 (elementary and K-8)
- 26 – 1 ratio school wide (with a 28-1 max)
- Begin with TK – 1st grade in 2015/16
- 2nd in 2016/17
- 3rd in 2017/18
- 4th in 2018/19
- 5th in 2019/20
- 6th in 2020/21 (elementary and K-8 schools only)
- Increase in the Districts ability to modify the school day by 10 minutes from year to year without consultation with SJTA or members
Additionally, the District dropped its demands requiring that teachers forfeit a greater number of their prep periods and an increase the number of non-instructional duties. But the District still has failed to respond to all the issues that SJTA has brought to the table.
While on the surface, the District’s offer represents recognition of SJTA’s assertions that funds are available for a fair and reasonable salary increase – the district is still simply shifting funds that are designated from one place to another.
Specifically, the District’s initial offer of 2.38% (plus .7% if SJTA agreed to an 8% minimum reserve) was a cost to the district of $3.57 million. The district’s most recent salary proposal is essentially the same in actual dollars for this year, just repackaged. Regarding class size, the district’s proposed timeline for class size reduction is still a year behind the state funding. This means that the district wants to use money (approximately $1.2 million per year, per grade level) intended for class size for other purposes.
The District continues to site declining enrollment and concerns about their ability to pay their bills in the third “out” year – despite a current reserve of approximately $50 million. The District claims that despite a near record increase of $24 million this year over last, and a projected increase of approximately $19 million over the next two years, they will be forced to deficit spend in the 2016-17.
Ultimately, this set of negotiations has become a referendum about the district’s priorities. While they have fully restored the central office to pre-recession capacity, the district continues to delay the implementation of class size reduction as well as fair and reasonable salaries increases for practitioners.
The district’s most recent proposal, although not sufficient, does move the parties closer together to an overall agreement. Bargaining dates have been scheduled for Wednesday, October 21 and Friday the 23rd.
October 5, 2014
SJTA and the District resumed bargaining for several days last week in an effort to avoid impasse. While some progress has been made no agreement has been reached. The next bargaining session is schedule for October 7.
SJTA President Shannan Brown’s Speech To the San Juan School Board on September 23, 2014
President Luttgen, Board Members, and Superintendent Kern:
San Juan Unified is esteemed for many reasons- one key reason being because of the ability of the District and the Association to work together- in innovative ways- to engage in meaningful work around teaching and learning.
For 6 long years, while the District was struggling financially, the Association and the District were able to work together - even when it came to money. Through our joint work on the healthcare committee, the District was able to save millions of dollars by making adjustments in our healthcare providers. The leadership of both District and our Association spent hundreds of hours figuring out how to keep the District fiscally solvent- even when it meant sacrifices to our own members.
Last year, as revenue began to return, and the district began to recover, there was no salary increase.
This year the District received more than 25 million in increased revenue. Now we need to know where you stand. You say you appreciate our contributions. You say you value us and the work we do to support students...
But those sentiments did not find there way into the district’s budget priorities. In fact, if one were to use the budget to identify district priorities here are a few things one might conclude:
- You do highly value the work of the District Office- as they have been fully restored to their 2007-2008 staffing levels.
- You do value hiring consultants to fix teachers because we apparently don’t know how to teach and no one within the district knows how to support us.
- You do value books and materials because that line item was increased 100 percent over last years actual cost- an increase of 12 million dollars
One could also look at the budget and conclude that you do not value:
- Your employees. The budget that was adopted has no increase for salaries. Zero. Not one dollar was booked to show that you planned on increasing employees’ salaries- the employees that have gone now 7 years without an increase while their own bills have gone up.
One could also look at the budget and conclude that you do not value:
- Students. The people who provide direct services and supports to students are far below the 2007-2008 staffing levels. That means we continue to do more with less in supporting students as their needs grow increasingly diverse as evidenced by the following:
- Staffing ratios in 7-12 are tightened and then squeezed to see where the district can reduce one more FTE.
- Elementary classes remain packed
- Nurses, counselors, and speech pathologists, all have caseloads that are unmanageable- and they struggle to meet the needs of students
- Special Education teachers work nights and weekends to keep up with the legal deadlines of IEPs
No matter how committed and dedicated we are as professionals, no matter how many additional responsibilities we are willing to assume to support students and their families—we are now at our limit.
You need to reward us now by offering a fair and reasonable pay increase.
You need to hire additional staff so we can truly meet the needs of all of our students.
SJTA Tells District To Bring More $ To The Table
September 12, 2014
After an all-day bargaining session this past week, SJTA and the District are no closer to an agreement. Management continues to outline worries over declining enrollment and rising health care costs as reasons to support their meager 2.38% salary schedule increase. SJTA, on the other hand, provided the district with ample budgetary evidence that a 5% increase is reasonable and fair.
The SJTA bargaining team has spent hours pouring over the district’s budget pointing out rapidly increasing revenues, growing fund balances, enormous increases in areas unrelated to direct services to students. This includes items such as 100% increase in books and materials and a 63% increase in professional consultants and services over last year.
SJTA believes that raising salaries and restoring staffing to pre-recession times is absolutely critical to recruiting and retaining employees and delivering quality services directly to students. SJTA is calling for a hard reset on many of these budgetary items as the district continues to roll over increases in non-critical areas while ignoring employee salaries. A hard reset means zero-basing these non-employee areas and only allowing the minimum required expenses.
SJTA has informed the district that “impasse” will be declared If no progress is made next week, and the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) will be notified. Impasse is the point in negotiations when differences in the parties positions are so substantial and well held that further negotiations is futile. In other words, there is no common ground to build an agreement. At this point PERB will assign a state mediator to commence a mediated form of negotiations between the parties.
The SJTA Crisis Team will be organizing all members to begin preparing for actions that will make our bargaining goals a reality. Actions such as writing letters to school board members, informational picketing, and “work to the rule” are just a few unifying activities that will be needed if no agreement is reached soon.
SJTA Rejects District’s Proposal of 2.38% Salary Offer
September 4, 2014
After 5 months of bargaining and more than 100 hours, there is still no agreement on several key issues. Despite the largest single year increase in revenue in decades, the district continues to employ budget practices that may drive negotiations to impasse. Such practices as setting financial targets without regard to employee compensation, and building up unnecessarily large ending balances reduce transparency and creates mistrust. Although there are several serious and complex issues that have been ignored for years, nothing is more critical than a substantial increase in pay for all our members. This was clearly articulated the first day of negotiations.
The district's proposal to SJTA on September 3, with critical issues outlined below, not only ignores the employee sacrifices that were made over the past 6 years to help maintain fiscal solvency, but attempts to squeeze more out of our members during and beyond their workday, and actually asks the union to be complicit stockpiling unnecessarily large financial reserves.
District's proposal regarding salary, class size and hours:
- A 2.38% raise and additional .70% contingent upon SJTA agreeing to a school board policy of a "minimum fund balance of 8%" (the law requires a 2% reserve)
- The 2.38% and the .70% above are dependent upon SJTA agreeing to a class size reduction proposal of 27 to 1 delineated as follows: a roll out over the next 8 years resulting in class size averages of 27 to 1 TK- 6 and 7th and 8th grade classes housed on K-8 sites
- Increase non-instructional duties from 6 to 8 per year and increase the number of preps that teacher must relinquish from 3 to 4 per year
SJTA's proposal addresses issues that have been building up for years and for some, decades of neglect.
SJTA Proposal regarding salary/stipends, class size and hours
- A 5% increase on all salary and stipend schedules effective July 1, 2014
- Begin implementing new class size reduction at an average of 26 to 1 beginning TK-2 in 2015-16 and rolling out subsequent grade level annually through grade 6 completed by 2019. New maximums will need to be negotiated as well.
- Replace the Extra Assignment Schedule of $24 per hour with a new structure for Professional Activities according to experience at a rate of $36 for years 1-5; $46 for years 6-10; and $56 for years 11 plus.
- Compensating our members (SpEd, Speech Pathologist, School Nurses) with legal and medical responsibility related to IEPs and medical assessments at the new professional activities rate
- Appropriately resourcing K- 8 with class size reduction and adequate prep time
Investing in the classroom and those who directly serve our students is still not a priority with management. It is not our members' salaries that are causing an undo strain on the financial situation. The district is choosing instead to invest in elaborate administrative and bureaucratic structures and external curriculum consultants at the costs of millions of dollars.
As evidenced by the two proposals above, the parties are not close to an agreement. Therefore, it is likely to become necessary to file for "impasse" with PERB if no substantial progress is made in the next two weeks. Impasse means that a state mediator will be assigned to our negotiations. Shannan Brown, SJTA President, will appoint a crisis team next week to begin organizing our members in actions that will lead to a successful conclusion.
Please continue to check the SJTA website for future updates. Bargaining is scheduled to continue next week. A full updated report will be presented at the first Rep Council September 17.
It’s Time To Change the District’s Priorities
August 6, 2014
To: All SJTA Members
From: The SJTA Bargaining Team
Last April when the SJTA and the District began bargaining for a successor contract, Shannan Brown, SJTA President, declared that providing a well deserved pay increase and restoring losses in many areas of student support would be essential to this agreement.
As both parties are aware of the long history of protracted battles over fair and reasonable salary increases, the district agreed to a joint budget review team to prepare for negotiations. The Budget Review Committee’s purpose is to consider budget modifications as the district’s financial health worsens or improves. Discussions of expenditure patterns, fund balances, and multi-year projections to maintain fiscal solvency were carefully reviewed.
After considerable review of the district’s financial condition, our analysis reveals that the San Juan is receiving the largest single year increase in Prop 98 funding in decades. Combined with growing reserves and positive projections for the next three years, the district’s financial status has improved dramatically.
The bargaining teams have been in negotiations since late April and pushed pause while the School Board recessed for the month of July. Prior to the break, the parties reached an accord on several issues that required action before the school year. Specifically, we have codified for the first time an involuntary transfer process for our ECE members, established an MOU for the professional growth system prototypes, and an increase in elementary prep time.
While we continue to work with the District on many innovative fronts, it appears old habits die hard when it comes to giving pay increases. The reality, as it appears at this time, is that the District did not plan for much of a salary increase, if any. This is disturbing on many levels, not the least being that our members have made real and significant sacrifices to keep the district afloat during the recession. More importantly, this is not about a lack of funding. The money for substantial salary increases is there — it’s just located in different line items of the district budget. To put it simply, the district has not made salaries a top priority.
Over the last few years, many issues affecting our members have been ignored or set aside as the state funding dried up. As a result, many key proposals have been presented to the district. In addition to a fair and reasonable salary increase for all members, other key proposals include additional compensation for our members who have significant legal responsibilities with IEPs, class size reduction K-5/6, caseload improvements for nurses, speech pathologists, and counselors, more definitive language to ensure teacher prep time and lunch for teacher librarians, additional resources for K-8s, and restoring the hearing aid benefit in our health care plans. We are expecting the district’s response in early August.
One final note: Adding to the disappointment that there was little consideration for a pay increase, several million dollars of new "supplemental" funds outlined in the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which are intended for direct student services, are actually being spent on bureaucratic infrastructure, new central office administrative positions, and external curriculum consultants. The result is a top down, fragmented approach that is ineffective. SJTA took a strong position advising that the vast majority of these funds should be spent on providing direct service to the most challenging and vulnerable of our students. This includes more certificated help to address the barriers to student learning, which includes a safe place on campus for students with serious behavioral issues and skilled teachers that focus on specialized and intensive services to re-engage such students in the classroom academically and behaviorally. We will be working with School Board members to amend the current LCAP, which is allowed by law.
Bargaining dates have been set throughout August and we will be providing updates on our website and to your home. Please make sure your address and personal email is current with our office. Call Lucia at 916 487-7582 to update your address to ensure timely information.
Salary Increase Tops List In Negotiations
April 28, 2014
SJTA and the District began negotiations for a successor contract last Friday, April 25. At the top of SJTA’s list is a fair and reasonable salary increase for all members by beginning of the next school year. Also high on the list is class size reduction and reasonable caseloads for all of our student-support members such as nurses, counselors and speech pathologists.
"The recession had a devastating effect on our members real income as well undercutting the critical services to our students," said Shannan Brown, SJTA President. "Providing a well deserved pay increase and restoring losses in many areas of student support is essential to this agreement."
The last increase to the salary schedule was 2008, which marked the beginning of the "great recession". Six years later, the financial health of the district is improving significantly and according to economic forecasts, will continue to improve over the next three years. But just how much the district will be receiving in new revenues is still uncertain.
On May 15, the Governor is required to provide a revised budget proposal to legislature for consideration. This proposal will likely be modified to reflect an additional $1.5-2 billion on income tax revenue over his original projection last January. However, it is still uncertain whether any of the additional revenue will be allocated to education as social programs, debt reduction, and pension solutions may take precedence.
As desirable as an early agreement may be, it is unlikely that it will occur before the summer break due to the timeline of the Governor’s negotiations with the legislature regarding the education portion of the budget.
"Our goal is have a tentative agreement to our members by September," said Ed Burgess, SJTA bargaining chair. "But we won’t compromise what we feel is fair just to satisfy an early agreement".
SJTA will provide updates to this website through the end of the school year as well as a full report at the May Rep Council. Bargaining updates will be sent to all members’ homes during the summer.