Unfortunately I was under the weather this last week and missed the announcement on December 1st of the contract settlement between the San Mateo-Foster City School District and SMETA, the union representing district teachers.
The district’s announcement states:
“The agreement, which covers the 625 teachers and support staff, will be in effect through June 30, 2019. Highlights of the tentative agreement include:
- Salary increases that include 5% retroactive to July 1, 2016 and 3% increase retroactive to July 1, 2017
- Increases to teacher stipends
- Increase to hourly pay rate for supplemental work”
As is customary in these contracts, a fixed percentage raise was negotiated once again.
Unfortunately no details were provided in either the district announcement or in the Daily Journal article as to how this settlement will impact the current district fiscal crisis caused by the failure of Measure Y.
I have commented in the past that this fixed percentage practice funnels much more money to the higher paid staff instead of providing the most help to the youngest teachers who desperately need it.
Many high-salaried teachers are not far from retirement, and these salary increases will also increase the district’s pension obligations.
The young teachers represent the future of the district. They are the lowest paid, and the ones who are struggling to afford a place to live near where they work.
I once again encourage the incoming Board of Trustees to “think outside the box” when they consider a new parcel tax ballot measure. Property taxes are soaring due to the current inflated real estate market. Combine this with several recent proposals to raise bridge tolls as well as other proposed taxes to fix congested local transportation, and we have a significant danger that voters will rebel.
I continue to believe that our citizenry wants to support our teachers, but will desire to do it in a way that guarantees the money goes to where it is needed.
To allow the district to attract and retain new talent, I believe that the salary scale needs to be made competitive with surrounding districts, and this should be done by raising the salary brackets, NOT by giving an across the board percentage increase. The Board needs to determine the cost of doing this, and, if it requires more money than they think can be raised from voters, then consider possibly raising only the salary brackets for, e.g., the first 5-10 years of service.
Any such parcel tax proposal should be “evergreened,” i.e., written not to expire unlike Measure Y. It is difficult to give raises if one knows that the revenue source will evaporate a few years down the road.
The ballot measure would also have a much greater chance of success if it explicitly states that the money be used solely for the purpose of increasing the salary brackets. The proposed increases in each bracket should be explicitly part of the proposal.
If we continue with business as usual, several years down the road we will find the SMFCSD budget consumed by pension payments while our children are being “taught” by substitute teachers because new recruits can no longer afford to work here.
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