Faced with a slimming budget, Poway teachers are weighing a 2.7 percent rollback of their salaries to help avert layoffs in the suburban school district, which estimated last month that it faced a $22.5 million shortfall. The school district has already warned teachers of possible layoffs, slashing roughly 400 jobs for educators to balance its books.

Marc Houle, president of the Poway Federation of Teachers, wrote an e-mail to teachers last Friday urging them to approve the plan:

I have heard the heartfelt arguments of those who would say that the proper decision long term for us would be to put much of what we do at risk and lay off hundreds of our colleagues having the resultant effect on education in our district. While I respect that opinion and those who embrace it, I would say that it carries with it the foundation that Sacramento and our state’s economy could fix our problem if it really wanted to … that our predicament would be resolved if better choices were made and priorities were reordered. To those friends and colleagues I would answer that our situation today isn’t caused by poor choices at the state capitol or an electorate that is able but unwilling to fund education as the children of California deserve. We cannot be blind to the unpleasant facts that unemployment in this state is skyrocketing and that the revenues that we depend on to continue life as we know it are plummeting. Our working environment will radically change next year regardless of what we do.

According to salary schedules posted on the union website, the change would put the lowest starting salary for Poway teachers at $41,648, slightly higher than the beginning pay of $39,411 for a typical teacher in San Diego Unified, where the teachers union has been staunchly opposed to rolling back salaries.

I’ve left a message for Houle and for Poway Unified spokeswoman Sharon Raffer to ask more about the plan and where it stands. Do you know of other school districts that are cutting pay? Help be my eyes and ears. You can send me an e-mail at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org.


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