ALPINE SCHOOL DISTRICT SLASHES TEACHER PAY: STRIKE PROSPECT LOOMS

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By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2013 (Alpine) – The Alpine Union School Board voted unanimously to slash pay and benefits for teachers by an average of 30 percent.  Teachers fear losing their homes with such deep cuts – and in January, the teachers’ union will vote on whether to go on strike.

Cuts, which start at the end of January will include a 7.85% permanent pay cut and a $5,500 reduction in district contributions toward health care benefits.  Full-time teachers stand to lose $1,400 to $1,600 a month and nearly half of the district’s 100 teachers stand to lose 30 percent of their pay and benefits, according to California Teachers Association representative Bill Guy, UT San Diego reported. Some could lose 50 percent.

Angry teachers shouted at school board members at a heated meeting on December 10, asking to speak. 

In an open letter to the AUSD board published by the Alpine Community Network, Alison Knight Ford, wife and daughter of teachers in the district and a parent with children in Alpine schools, called on the Board to resign. “Your actions have caused a massive wave of upset among the parents and teachers of this community,” she said, adding, “I have NEVER felt this worried or concerned for my little child's future.” She added that she and her husband are considering removing their children from the school system.

Lou Russo, a parent and member of the Alpine Planning Group, calls for other drastic action.  "Is it time to close an elementary?  No one wants to hear of it, but Alpine Union School District (AUSD) finds itself butting heads with that terrible reality known as reality," he suggests. "What does shuttering a school site buy us?  Isn't it time to find out?" 

Russo, offering up his own "Plan to cure the AUSD" sent to local media outlets, also suggests laying off some teachers and cutting administrative costs would be preferably to the board's course of action.  He asks, "Do we really need a full time superintendent?  Do we need full time administrators at each site?  Can they double up?  Can a senior teacher be part time vice principal?  Why not?"

Supervisor Tom Pellegrino attempted to justify the cuts, adding, “If we had the money to give the teachers, we would give it,” 10 News reported.

Ramie Hagood sharply criticized Pellegrino’s conduct at the meeting. “To impose the changes in the middle of the meeting before everyone had the opportunity to speak was extremely disrespectful and unnecessary.  They should be ashamed of themselves,” she posted at the Alpine Community Network.  

Many teachers have criticized the Superintendent for maintaining a hefty salary and travel allowance while asking deep sacrifices of teachers.

The district blames its economic woes on rising heatlh costs, state budget cuts, and declining enrollment. But teachers say those problems have been known for years – and they are prepared to strike.

The district blames declining enrollment, escalating health costs and state cuts. Teachers say all of those problems were in the forecast years ago and they are prepared to strike.

"If we go out on strike, that's even more money out of pocket, but I'm willing to do that," said Beth Bresnahan, who has taught here for nearly three decades, 10 News reported She concluded that it’s time for teachers to take a stand.

Comments

Salary reductions

"Cuts, which start at the end of January will include a 7.85% permanent pay cut and a $5,500 reduction in district contributions toward health care benefits.  Full-time teachers stand to lose $1,400 to $1,600 a month and nearly half of the district’s 100 teachers stand to lose 30 percent of their pay and benefits, according to California Teachers Association representative Bill Guy, UT San Diego reported. Some could lose 50 percent."

I know no one is reading these comments any more, but I have failed to get responses from either teachers or board members whom I've contacted, so I'm taking a shot in the dark in hopes someone can show me the correct math on figuring 30% cuts.

How does a 7.85% salary reduction and up to $5,000 in benefit (health care caps of $13,000 to $8,000 from my understanding) lead to 30% salary cuts, some 50%? Let's say a teacher made $20,000 and received full benefits. A 7.85% salary reduction would be $18,430, and $5,000 reduced in benefits would lead to $5,000 more out of pocket for $13,430. That is a 32.15% reduction in overall salary and benefits. Not even close to 50%.

My previous example was to illustrate where the salary you'd have to be at in order to have a 30% pay cut. The minimum salary per the 2013-2014 salary schedule is $35,887.77.  Using this we see salary cut to $33,070.58. Assuimg once again that this employee uses full benefits, another $5,000 will be cut, leading to $28,070.58. This is a reduction in salary and benefits of 21.8%. The highest salary on the schedule is $79,530.01. Salary reduction brings this to $73,286.90 and after benefit reduction $68,286.90, which is a 14.2% reduction

While none of these cuts are good (only 0% in cuts would be good), I am having a hard time finding where "half of the district's 100 teachers stand to lose 30 percent of their pay and benefits." Can some one help me here?

I agree... But

I agree with your second paragraph, certainly on an emotional level. But I also thnk Bush and Obama were presented will a real problem that wasn't amenable to an easy solution: the fat cats controlled so much of the country's and world's money that letting them all fail would have taken the entire world into a prolonged depression, not just the severe recession we went through, which was bad enough. It left a horrible taste in my mouth, but at the time I personally couldn't see a better alternative and still can't. I really hate the degree to which money talks in this world, but it's a fact whether I like it or not.

With regard to the economic points I made, they're all plain facts that I was careful to check before sharing. Things truly are better overall, according to the numbers, than many people believe. Check 'em out for yourself, or I can dig up the sources I considered reliable and post links to them.

By the way, I really appreciate your civil response and apologize for putting words in your mouth. My bad.

Slightly off topic.......

No need to apologize, these comment sections can get heated quickly!

   I want to believe that things are getting better, however I believe some of these numbers that are being published are misleading. Take for instance the unemployment numbers. These numbers fail to measure how many people just dropped off the radar while looking for a job after their unemployment simply ran out. A lot of employers that are hiring now seem to be only offering part time or independent contractor positions. If you get past that the salaries are getting lower and lower, meanwhile everything keeps going up in price.

   You make a good point above about not letting them all fail. But who gets to draw the line? Who sets the limit on who is going to get saved and who does not. I don't know about you but I sure would like to be on the end of a bailout. Where is our bailout? Where is the Teachers bailout, etc., etc. I believe a natural correction needs to take place in the market & when it does it will be painful to be sure but it is something that needs to happen naturally as most of the same fat cats are still doing the same thing.

BTW I hope the Teachers hold the line and they get what they are asking.

ALPINE SCHOOL DISTRICT SLASHES TEACHER PAY

Just about every person I know in the private sector has been through pay cut's, downsizing, or the have had the company shut down completely. Be thankful you have a job, and one that offers health care! Most people in the private sector don't even have it. Until the government comes to grips with the reality that you can not just keep printing more currency to pass another hypothetical budget it will get worse before it gets better.

Teachers are preparing future workers and citizens

SO WHAT if the private sector has been going through rough times? Teachers are not producing widgets for current use or consumption, or offering services oriented toward the now. They are helping produce the future of this country. If you care about the United States' economic competitiveness the LAST thing you should be supporting is the kind of cuts approved by the board. Treating teachers this way is abominable and woefully shortsighted.

And, by the way, inflation remains at historic lows so the gov't is not simply printing more money. The deficit has already been cut by more than half. California is back in the black.  The economy is starting to show some real strength again. If enrollment is way down some downsizing and consolidating might indeed be called for, but I see no way to justify such deep, across-the-board cuts--especially with the Superintendent unwilling to share the pain. 

RE: Teachers are preparing future workers and citizens

You Wrote:

"And, by the way, inflation remains at historic lows so the gov't is not simply printing more money. The deficit has already been cut by more than half. California is back in the black.  The economy is starting to show some real strength again."

You are kidding about the above statement correct?

To get back on topic, I am not supporting cuts to the district, my comment was an opinion only.

As a nation we spend trillions on defense, NSA, drones etc. etc. yet we neglect our own infrastructure, (including education). When the crash hit the government simply bailed out the fat cats on Wall Street and simply forgot about Main Street.

Alpine School District

Every public school district in San Diego County is having the same problem,  not enough money to sustain current expenditures.   This article only tells 1/2 the story and a good reporter would research and report the whole story.

1. What is the Total revenues that the District receives each year from ALL sources ?

2. What is the Total exenditures including benefits owed both current and retirement, health care ?

3. If enrollment is down as stated,  then is employment (staffing) going down .

4. Has the union offered any solutions to the problems,  other than increased revenue (taxes) ?

 

Let the public see the numbers,  and why the decision was made the way it was.