SMFCSD Teacher Salary Dispute

Thoughts on the current salary negotiations.

As those of you know who follow my posts on this blog and our local community site at, I held meetings with both teachers and the San Mateo Foster City School District (SMFCSD) administration a while back in an attempt to come up with new ideas to raise teacher salaries in the district.  See this article for example.

I backed off of this effort due to the push to pass Measure Y.  I wrote several articles promoting Measure Y, but unfortunately it was not successful.  I intend to write another article soon about Measure Y alternatives incorporating additional data I received during my meetings after the article above was published.

There is no question that teachers need to be paid more to have any hope of continuing to work here, but the main question in the current dispute appears to boil down to the use of the district’s reserves.  Note these passages in Superintendent Rosas’ letter sent recently to parents:

“Questions have been asked about the use of District reserves to manage the on-going, structural deficit and increase employee compensation. Much of the funding in the reserves is one-time funding and cannot support the on-going structural deficit. The annual 10% reserve was established by Board Policy to cover the 3% State mandated reserve and provide 7% for economic downturn.”


“A fiscally sound budget spanning three years evidencing our ability to fund the compensation increase is required by the State of California. State regulations require that we cannot offer compensation without the on-going revenue to support it.”

It seems to me that this is an issue that reasonable people should be able to resolve through discussion.  I, for one, am not in favor of drowning out rational discussion by filling chairs at board meetings with uninformed people.

Pay demands that lead to teacher layoffs in the next economic downturn are not a good idea.

Unfortunately, however, it is always the junior teachers with little seniority that take these layoff hits.  These are the teachers that we need to retain if we are going to avoid a coming demographic deficit when baby-boom teachers retire soon.

12% of the teachers in the SMFCSD are at the top of the pay scale which means that they no longer get the automatic raises that come with years of service.  The current salary schedule is here.

When teachers say they are not getting “raises,” this statement usually does not count the increases in the schedule above as “raises,” although they would seem to be raises to people in any other occupation.

While I believe that ALL teachers should be paid more, we have to do the best we can with the resources that the public provides, and when only 28% care enough to vote, that is a sad situation.

However, I am most definitely NOT in favor of giving more money to people at the top if it leads to hardship for struggling new teachers who are the ones who need the most help.

I am not privy to the behind-the-scenes negotiations by any means, but have spent enough time in the real world to know that there are always hidden agendas.

Before you get emotionally involved in protests, please take the time to inform yourself on the issues.

Unfortunately younger teachers are usually too hesitant to speak up, but if any wish to do so anonymously, please feel free to use the Contact page on this website to contact me privately, and I will be happy to distribute your comments anonymously.

David Kristofferson, Ph.D.

Author: David Kristofferson

Retired Ph.D. scientist, teacher (after retiring from industry, taught in private and public high schools and then worked a decade in my own private tutoring business), bioinformatician (managed both the NIH-funded GenBank National Nucleic Acid Sequence Databank and the BIONET National Computer Resource for Molecular Biology), IT director at Eos and Raven Biotechnologies, software product manager, AAAS Fellow, avid cyclist, and backpacker!

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