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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.