Teacher Layoff Deal: Five Key Takeaways

Teacher Layoff Deal: Five Key Takeaways

File photo by Sam Hodgson

School board President John Lee Evans

 

The big deal struck Tuesday between the San Diego Unified School District and the teachers union aims to rescind all of the proposed 1,372 laid off teachers and bring back about half of the nurses and counselors laid off earlier this year.

At the core of the agreement are two key concessions from teachers: They will put off promised pay raises and will continue to work five unpaid furlough days for the next two years. Teachers also agreed to take 14 more unpaid days off if two tax measures fail to pass in November’s ballot.

Here are a few key takeaways from the six-page deal, which I just had a chance to scour. I’ll take them in turn:

1. The district and union plan to talk much more about the budget.

This is a biggie.

The very last paragraph of the tentative agreement says the school district and the San Diego Education Association, the union that represents teachers, will establish a joint committee, made up of four representatives each, to meet periodically to discuss the budget.

That marks a big shift for a union that for the last few years has refused to hold formal, regular meetings with the district.

And it marks the culmination of the union’s softening stance toward the district. It began a few months ago with the ouster of Executive Director Craig Leedham and the voting out of hard-line vice president Camille Zombro.

School board president John Lee Evans said he’s been advocating for greater communication between the two sides for more than a year now. He said during the negotiations that resulted in this agreement, both sides saw the value of talking and both agreed on most key points of discussion.

“As a psychologist, I was very impressed by both sides,” Evans said. “Both sides were talking and listening, and weren’t just talking at each other.”

The decision to meet on a regular basis also mirrors the tactics of the county’s second-largest school district, Poway Unified, which my colleague Andrew Donohue profiled in this piece.

Poway, where union and district officials meet several times a year to discuss the budget, didn’t lay off a single teacher this year, despite facing state cuts just like San Diego Unified.

2. The deal’s not done yet.

To reiterate a point I probably didn’t make clearly enough in Tuesday’s post, the tentative agreement won’t become final unless and until it has been voted on and approved by the union and the school board.

The board will hold a special public meeting on Friday at 4 p.m. to discuss the deal. The union will then hold a vote over three days, tentatively scheduled for June 24-26. A majority of educators who vote must approve the deal for it to become final.

If the union approves the deal, the school board will then vote next Thursday on whether to ratify it.

Evans said he thinks both the teachers and the board will give their seal of approval to the deal.

“I’m completely confident that the school board will back this agreement and I’m very hopeful as far as the teachers. Their board overwhelmingly approved it,” Evans said.

3. If the state sends San Diego more money, teachers get paid more.

The school district still doesn’t know exactly how much money it will get from the state next year. So far, all it has are predictions. It’s possible that the per-student funding it receives could increase later this year.

If it gets more than it’s expecting, the tentative agreement spells out precisely how any extra money will be divvied up. The basics: First, teachers get a 2-percent salary bump, then furlough days are replaced, then salaries will be increased across the board.

Bear in mind that this is very unlikely to happen at this point. There’s no sign that the state is going to increase education funding any time soon.

4. If the district finds or gets more money from anywhere else, furlough days are rolled back.

Much of the debate over union concessions has focused on whether the district really has no other option than to lay teachers off to balance its budget. In past years, the district has “found” pots of money in its budget that it has been able to use at the last minute to rescind hundreds of threatened layoffs.

This year, the union had its own experts scrub the budget. They didn’t come up with much, and the union obviously felt obliged to make a deal to save teachers’ jobs.

The tentative agreement contains an interesting clause: If the district does “find” money in its budget, that extra money will go to roll back some of the furlough days. That, in turn, will increase the amount teachers get paid.

The same applies if the district receives more money in any other way than the standard per-student state funding. If, for example, the federal government launches a stimulus package to send money to schools, that extra revenue will be spent to roll back furlough days.

5. Only the first 300 teachers to retire get $25,000

In Tuesday’s post, I mentioned the district’s offer to veteran teachers: Those with more than 25 years of experience who are older than 55 have the option to retire now and receive a one-time lump sum payment of $25,000.

That deal only applies for the first 300 teachers who step forward.

The district also hopes that this golden parachute could result in a net savings for its budget. It may cost less to pay older, more expensive teachers $25,000 to retire than it would to keep those teachers on for another year. If that happens, the district will use any savings to roll back some of the furlough days.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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Will Carless

Will Carless

Will Carless is the former head of investigations at Voice of San Diego. He currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he is a freelance foreign correspondent and occasional contributor to VOSD. You can reach him at will.carless.work@gmail.com.

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44 comments
Bob Sanche
Bob Sanche subscriber

Maybe their unon didn't fight for them? Maybe the classified should have stayed with ETA instead of CSEA? One will never know.

Jewel
Jewel

Maybe their unon didn't fight for them? Maybe the classified should have stayed with ETA instead of CSEA? One will never know.

Allen Hemphill
Allen Hemphill subscribermember

Divorce them! Academics in one place with one group of academically-oriented teachers (all supported by taxpayers), and sports located elsewhere with sports-oriented people supported by those who are interested in sports -- including participants and their families, and the sports organizations for which those teams serve as minor-league training organizations.

Akamai
Akamai

Divorce them! Academics in one place with one group of academically-oriented teachers (all supported by taxpayers), and sports located elsewhere with sports-oriented people supported by those who are interested in sports -- including participants and their families, and the sports organizations for which those teams serve as minor-league training organizations.

Elmer Walker
Elmer Walker subscriber

I agree with you Jim. After the first year of teaching, an efficient teacher can do a good job in an average of 8 hours per day. Those who lament the long hours of work should acquire some classroom management skills and also learn basic honesty.

elmerew
elmerew

I agree with you Jim. After the first year of teaching, an efficient teacher can do a good job in an average of 8 hours per day. Those who lament the long hours of work should acquire some classroom management skills and also learn basic honesty.

Mary Turnberg
Mary Turnberg subscriber

Akamai: I personally know a LARGE number of academically at risk students who become motivated to achieve academically ONLY because the opportunity exists to play on their school's sports teams. And every time the lure of sports captures another at risk student I silently thank the sports program and the coaches!

Mary Turnberg
Mary Turnberg

Akamai: I personally know a LARGE number of academically at risk students who become motivated to achieve academically ONLY because the opportunity exists to play on their school's sports teams. And every time the lure of sports captures another at risk student I silently thank the sports program and the coaches!

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

James, when our schools get out of the bottom positions nationwide on performance and the top positions on pay, I'll offer you congratulations. Until then why would you expect anything other than blunt talk about how our schools perform and what they cost?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

James, when our schools get out of the bottom positions nationwide on performance and the top positions on pay, I'll offer you congratulations. Until then why would you expect anything other than blunt talk about how our schools perform and what they cost?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Teachers are overpaid. The longer we keep the pay inflated the harder the eventual crash will be.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

Teachers are overpaid. The longer we keep the pay inflated the harder the eventual crash will be.

Veronica Krautheim
Veronica Krautheim subscriber

Once again, Jim Jones, you display a complete and utter misunderstanding of what it takes to be a teacher. May I suggest that you take on the responsibilities of a teacher for one year, and then your comments will have some meaning.

Resident
Resident

Once again, Jim Jones, you display a complete and utter misunderstanding of what it takes to be a teacher. May I suggest that you take on the responsibilities of a teacher for one year, and then your comments will have some meaning.

James Speros
James Speros subscriber

Also, don't you think that the district leadership is too proud to declare insolvency until they have literally no other choice. If push comes to shove next year, I think they'll follow through with layoffs and larger class sizes instead of insolvency. I guess we'll see. (I don't count Scott Barnett as district leadership, because nobody's listening to that guy.)

JamesS
JamesS

Also, don't you think that the district leadership is too proud to declare insolvency until they have literally no other choice. If push comes to shove next year, I think they'll follow through with layoffs and larger class sizes instead of insolvency. I guess we'll see. (I don't count Scott Barnett as district leadership, because nobody's listening to that guy.)

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Regardless, SDUSD schools will more than likely be under Sacramento by the end of next year.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

Regardless, SDUSD schools will more than likely be under Sacramento by the end of next year.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

I fully understand your point. Alas, to most of us teachers are the most visible (as well as perhaps the largest) segment of school employees. Except when the reference is specifically to credentialed teachers, we should use the term "school employees." I think most of us do really understand that.

fryefan
fryefan

I fully understand your point. Alas, to most of us teachers are the most visible (as well as perhaps the largest) segment of school employees. Except when the reference is specifically to credentialed teachers, we should use the term "school employees." I think most of us do really understand that.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Maybe it has to with he fact that teachers work long and hard, while retirees get full use of their time.

fryefan
fryefan

Maybe it has to with he fact that teachers work long and hard, while retirees get full use of their time.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Teachers teach. In his long-running drama they are teaching voters to keep screwing them. They need a new lesson plan, IMO.

fryefan
fryefan

Teachers teach. In his long-running drama they are teaching voters to keep screwing them. They need a new lesson plan, IMO.

mlaiuppa
mlaiuppa subscriber

Next year when 2,000 teachers are RIFd and the district wants to take back the golden kick in the pants and healthcare, no one will remember what teachers sacrificed this year (and last year and the year before that and before that and before that). We'll be expected to prove that we love our students more than anyone else apparently does by sacrificing. Again.

mlaiuppa
mlaiuppa

Next year when 2,000 teachers are RIFd and the district wants to take back the golden kick in the pants and healthcare, no one will remember what teachers sacrificed this year (and last year and the year before that and before that and before that). We'll be expected to prove that we love our students more than anyone else apparently does by sacrificing. Again.

bigdprender
bigdprender subscriber

700 classified don't count huh?

Margaret Sabetti
Margaret Sabetti subscriber

We faithfully serve the parents, students and teachers of SDUSD. Our reward? More work and more cuts! When was the last time classified cuts were rescinded? If you ask them, classified workers will tell you that they have borne the brundt of cuts for nearly a decade. Isn't it time that SDUSD stopped trying to balance the budget on our backs?

got2read
got2read

We faithfully serve the parents, students and teachers of SDUSD. Our reward? More work and more cuts! When was the last time classified cuts were rescinded? If you ask them, classified workers will tell you that they have borne the brundt of cuts for nearly a decade. Isn't it time that SDUSD stopped trying to balance the budget on our backs?

Mary Turnberg
Mary Turnberg subscriber

SDEA tells me that this deal will bring back ALL laid off counselors and nurses. Will, you are reporting that this deal is only bringing back HALF of all the laid off counselors and nurses. Which is it????

Mary Turnberg
Mary Turnberg

SDEA tells me that this deal will bring back ALL laid off counselors and nurses. Will, you are reporting that this deal is only bringing back HALF of all the laid off counselors and nurses. Which is it????

Oscar Ramos
Oscar Ramos subscribermember

With respect to point #3, I think this is an example of why the union has a PR problem. Instead of new revenue from the state going to a 2% raise, it should first go to replacing furlough days since that would result in a pay increase anyways. This part of the agreement supports notion that the union is not putting the students first. All new money should go to reducing furlough days first.

ramos01
ramos01

With respect to point #3, I think this is an example of why the union has a PR problem. Instead of new revenue from the state going to a 2% raise, it should first go to replacing furlough days since that would result in a pay increase anyways. This part of the agreement supports notion that the union is not putting the students first. All new money should go to reducing furlough days first.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Just out of curiosity, why would a teacher take $25k to retire when they can collect $80k for just showing up, unless they already intended to retire?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

Just out of curiosity, why would a teacher take $25k to retire when they can collect $80k for just showing up, unless they already intended to retire?

James Speros
James Speros subscriber

And then let's return the favor by demonstrating our commitment to our schools and our kids at the ballot box this November.

JamesS
JamesS

And then let's return the favor by demonstrating our commitment to our schools and our kids at the ballot box this November.

bigdprender
bigdprender subscriber

I have a box of tissues for you...meanwhile 700 classified people weren't even given a vote...

bigdprender
bigdprender

I have a box of tissues for you...meanwhile 700 classified people weren't even given a vote...

Jim Withers
Jim Withers subscriber

Wonderful - every one is talking now and the teachers bear the brunt of all the cuts - real and yet to be determined to be real.

Wiz1
Wiz1

Wonderful - every one is talking now and the teachers bear the brunt of all the cuts - real and yet to be determined to be real.