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Archive for the month “January, 2014”

SDEA vs. UTLA: Brains over Brawn

Hello readers.  I’ve been away from this blog for a bit, because until now, things have looked quite rosy in our little corner of the education world.  However, with the spring SDEA elections rapidly approaching, the doomsayers from The Breakfast Club are once again trying to fill your heads with propaganda and half-truths, in order to scare you into voting them onto the union board and positions of power.

I say thee, “Nay!”  As evidence, I offer this commentary on their latest barrage of twisted facts, written by SDEA board member Shane Parmely.  (Her comments in italics.)

This past Wednesday, the Los Angeles teachers union UTLA Rep. Council voted to go to the bargaining table IMMEDIATELY to demand a 17.6% raise, plus lower class size, the restoration of laid off positions, and other member priorities. How? What? Why?Because it makes sense.

How nice for them.  I’m glad they felt like demanding things of their district.  I do believe that, when times warrant that behavior, marching in with anger blazing could get things done.  But, the climate in LA is much different than the climate in SD, and we have a better relationship with our school board than they do up there. 

In districts all over California, the money for raises and restorations is absolutely there. It’s just a question of how each district chooses to spend their increasingly large funds—and how hard each union pushes.

The money is absolutely there? Wow.  I didn’t know that the BC had that much pull in Sacramento, to be able to walk in and see the budget documents from the Governor’s office.  I’d love to see the proof of this statement, and how she was able to find out such information. 

On January 9, Governor Jerry Brown announced his planned state budget for 2014-2015, and it involves massive increases in funding to education, to the tune of $10 billion (yes, BILLION dollars) more than anticipated. According to CTA, that means a 10.9% increase over current, already increased funding levels. Plus, all remaining deferral debt (the imaginary future debt the District points to every year to justify their current cuts) is totally wiped out. Um, wow!

Yup, just like he’s required to do by law, the Governor released his first preliminary budget plan for the coming fiscal year.  Don’t those numbers look beautiful?  And yet, as we all know, by the time the final budget is released in May/June, those numbers change quite a bit.  Sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but NEVER what was discussed in January.  Brown has some high hopes.  Does this mean it’s true?  Who knows – but we shouldn’t base our desires on what might be…only what is.

What does this mean for SDUSD? A LOT. As in, A LOT OF MONEY. Based on the District’s July 1 budget for the current school year, our 13-14 ADA funding is $6,813.66 per student. Back in July, SDUSD projected that next year’s ADA would be $6,936.66—a measly 1.6% increase for 14-15. Brown’s 10.9% increase would put SDUSD’s 14-15 ADA at $7,556.35. That’s an extra $742 per student! With the District’s projected enrollment of 104,019 for next year, we’re talking almost $80 million above and beyond this year’s funding levels! It’s also $65 million more than the District thought they’d be getting next year. Again, um, wow!

Ah, yes.  The superintendent’s preliminary budget information makes for interesting reading.  If I’m not mistaken, there’s also a notation in that budget that our district is predicting a several-million dollar deficit in the coming year—at least, according to an article by McGee in the UT earlier this month.  So, which numbers are we to believe?  Again – who knows?  Just like the Governor’s first budget release is based on projections, so goes the Superintendent’s first budget release.  Why…because the district’s numbers are tied to the Governor’s numbers.  As we’ve seen in the past, once the actual state budget is released, our district budget changes drastically from the first projected numbers. 

That is why other teacher unions in California are wasting no time in reacting. In the plan approved by the UTLA Rep. Council, they are asking for raises to begin kicking in ASAP. As in, during the current 13-14 school year. It’s a “get it before they spend it campaign.” Sounds about right to me.

Well, of course.  Because being confrontational and demanding and bullying is absolutely the best way to get what you want.  Remember, the UTLA is “demanding” their money right now.  Demanding is great.  But it doesn’t always work.  In some cases, it’s the wrong thing to do.  Especially if you’ve built up a modicum of trust with the party you’re dealing with, like we have with our district.  To be sure, I’d love to have my restoration kick in right now.  But, unlike the Breakfast Club, I’m not willing to risk our upcoming contract negotiations to get it. 

I really hope that this lights a fire under our own union’s leadership to push for our raises RIGHT NOW. At OUR last Rep. Council, our SDEA ARs voted NOT to push for the rest of the 6% salary restorations we are owed to happen any sooner than July 1, 2014. Yup. Our Rep. Council voted AGAINST fighting for a raise for this year, led by SDEA Vice President Lindsay Burningham and President Bill Freeman, who turned over chairmanship of the meeting in order to speak against it from the Rep. Council floor. The motion to push for our salary restorations to happen now, not next year, was made by La Jolla HS AR Pat Thomas, and defended by many Breakfast Club caucus ARs. But it was defeated after comments defending the District’s budget by Freeman and Burningham, as well SDEA Board member Ramon Espinal, former SDEA President Terry Pesta, and SDEA Budget Committee member/Hoover HS AR Dave Erving.

That’s right – OUR Association Representatives listened to your group’s version of a bullying tactic and voted it down.  Quite handily, I might add.  Based on the number of NO votes I heard after the reading of your motion, I wouldn’t be surprised if several Clubbers voted against it as well.  And while members of the Board spoke against your motion, so did several general members.  While your intentions may have been admirable, the format of your motion was not.  It was an attempt at bullying, plain and simple.  And as we all know, bullies don’t last long, wherever they may be.  And therein lies the flaw of your nefarious plan.


Well, the extra $65 million in unanticipated funds in 14-15 frees up A LOT of funding for our District THIS YEAR—funds the District has been “setting aside” to fill their fake budget holes two and three years out. Those holes just got incontrovertibly filled. It’s never been more clear that the District has the money to pay us the raises we bargained back in 2010, right now. Shouldn’t we “get it before they spend it” too?

Unless you’re a financial analyst, and can show me how you arrived at this conclusion, you have no way under God’s blue sky to know what is and isn’t available for funding this year in our district.  Have you sat on a budget scrub panel?  No.   Have you reviewed their budget line by line with a CPA or other financial specialist?  I sincerely doubt it (but would be willing to retract that statement if you can prove that you have).  How did you arrive at the “fact” that “…the district has the money to pay us the raises…right now?”  Please show your work.  Because that would go a long way to make a believer out of me. 

That’s what I’ll be pushing for as an SDEA Board member. If you feel the same, let your SDEA leaders, starting with your elected site AR, know. The voters passed Prop. 30 to see lower class size, no more layoffs, and an end to substandard pay for educators. So what are we waiting for?

Hmmm.  As an SDEA Board Member, you should be pushing for the will of the people – the members you represent.  NOT your own personal agenda.  That’s a good way to have a recall petition started…

Bottom line:  We have contract negotiations coming up in just a few months.  SDEA has conducted barging sessions with over 80% of our members, and have a clear priority of what WE want to see in our new contract.  We have a contract in place now that is working well at restoring our previously-deferred raises.  Heck, we just received another returned furlough day, resulting in an additional .54% salary increase for the coming months.  And that was done without demands, without bullying, without anger.  It was done with collaboration and hard work. 

Marching into the district offices with a demand letter at this time will absolutely divide our union membership.  We will be fractured and our throats will be opened to the wolf at the door.  Our bargaining team and contract negotiation team will have wasted all of their hard work for nothing…and all because YOU want us to be like the UTLA.  Well, if you like the way their union runs, perhaps there is a teaching position for you in their district.    


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