On January 6, 2016 Marsha Sutton wrote her opinion column for the Del Mar Times, "Budgeting for the San Dieguito raise" questioning numerous fiscal decisions by the San Dieguito School Board. In her article she indicated that a deeper financial analysis of the San Dieguito Board's financial decisions was needed. She has consistently attempted to bring to light certain steps taken by the board which appear to contradict best practices of other districts or sound fiscal practices generally. Watchdog has also tried to bring certain questionable financial decisions to the public's attention.
We have shared with the public how the JAB voting block (Joyce Dalessandro, Amy Herman and Beth Hergesheimer), approved an employment master contract, which not only conferred a 12.5% raise despite projected operational deficits (see p.299 of the June Board Packet), but also additionally guaranteed that the teachers would always be the highest paid in all of San Diego County, without any language that made the golden goose guarantee contingent upon the district's fiscal health. This raise made the average salary for our district teachers over $100,000 and some of the highest in the country (even though families are told our district is cash poor so that they need to donate to foundations to help buy books, technology and more things the district supposedly covers).
In September 2017 we brought you a story about simple math in our District Budgets and how the numbers were not adding up in terms of revenue, parent donations and expenditures.
In April 2018 we brought you a story about the increase in salaries for administrators all while the district claimed it was "poor" and underfunded, and instead of putting the needs of students first in terms of meeting site funding needs.
We have published countless documents in numerous articles showing millions of dollars of waste including the: approximately $1 million in salary payments to a teacher who didn't teach, the approximately $1 million "special needs" facility that was wasted as it could not fit the students it was built for in 2017, the over $100 million in escalation costs resulting from the Prop AA planning process, and the use of around $10 million in Prop AA funding to build off-site athletic fields that the district wants to turn over to the City of Carlsbad to use as a park even though Prop AA funding was supposed to be used to improve the district school sites and facilities for its students.
But as we continue to request documents and examine the numbers more closely, the practices seem to become even more concerning. If salary increases of 25% or more in a single year for public school employees does not concern you despite the projected deficits, then stop reading.
If you don't believe what we're stating, keep reading.
Truth is always crazier than fiction. And yes, our district has sadly been "JAB'd" once again. The latest? Read on...
Over the last two years, the San Dieguito School Board has come under increasing criticism for its exorbitant staff raises, which it has approved despite its claims of being underfunded. At the June 21, 2018 Board Meeting Trustee Dalessando once again expressed in public that the District does not have money because it is the lowest funded District in the State. However, when challenged publicly, Mr. Dill acknowledged that our district is paid exactly the same general funding per student as all other districts. Our district just does not get the same "supplemental" or "concentrated" funding under the state's funding model because our district has fewer English learners and low income students for whom this funding is provided to improve their academic proficiency.
But, back to Trustee's Dalessandro's remarks. If she really believes her rhetoric about being so underfunded, why does she keep rubber stamping poorly proposed budgets and refuse to question where the money is going? Maybe she should read our site because our followers are more educated about the funding issues than the Trustees.
Can she answer these questions?
1. Why is so much money going to administrators?
We took the data from Transparent California and compared the total pay and benefits for the Top Paid Employees in the District using the 2015 and 2016 transparent CA Data -- you can find the full file here ; however we thought we would share a couple that really stood out:
On the surface, this information looks, well, not good. In response to Marsha Sutton's January 2016 article pleading for more analysis, we have tried to help with additional analysis and even promote further inquiry. Taxpayers are now starting to better hold our elected officials accountable for allocating our tax dollars to what truly benefits OUR students in OUR CA PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
2. How will our district, which has a fixed income, be able to sustain the record-making teacher raises given the projected deficits and the district's increased pension contributions which are now eating away at the district's "rainy day" reserves? As reported by Sutton:
• According to the district’s pay scale before the 2015-18 Master contract, a first-year new San Dieguito teacher (at "Step 1" and "Column 1") would have earned $42,545 for a standard 186-day work year (approximately half a year of work).
• Under the 2015-18 Master Contract, a new teacher will now earn an extra $1,000 per year for having the required English Learner credential (required by the state for any teacher who will provide instruction to students in need of English language development). This stipend was formerly given only to teachers who earned it, but all teachers receive it now since every teacher must have the EL credential. (Cost: Roughly an additional $500,000 annually just for this newly added stipend, which pays teachers even though they have to get this credential under the state).
• Per the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) regulations, about $11,000 from employees’ Flexible Spending Account health benefit program will now be transferred into salary.
That brings a first-year teacher’s salary, with the $12,000 rolled into it, up to $54,545.
Following along so far? And now to the 12.5% raise that earned the district the San Diego Taxpayer's Association "2016 Grand Golden Fleece Award" in June 2016.
The SDFA Contract contract calls for a 7-percent increase for the 2015-2016 year (retroactive to July 1, 2015), which raises it to $58,363
For 2016-2017, another 5.5 percent raise is part of the agreement, which brings the teacher’s salary up to $61,573.
So now a first year teacher in the District at Step 1, Column 1 receives $61,573 base salary their first day of work.
On December 14, 2017, while the Master Contract was still in effect, the school board approved another 0.5% raise (retroactive of course to July 1, 2017, and despite a projected $9 million deficit for the year, see page 140 of the Board packet) claiming an increase in healthcare cost made them do it. So now the Step 1, Column 1 is $61,756.
So now we all know where the baseline is for our district's teachers. The first year teacher today will come into the District with a base salary of $61,756 for half a year of work.
Again, this in addition to the administrators and their step and column and longevity payments and their me too raises; and then there are those that have been protected and probably not allotted performance reviews for the jobs they are actually being paid to do. And of course, the stories about the San Dieguito Teacher, the La Costa Canyon Teacher and the Union Boss?
Story Update Added 10.14.2018
On October 2, 2018 a candidate forum was held in Pacific Highlands Ranch for Trustee Area 5 Candidates. During the evening discussions about the teacher's raise, "A teacher in the audience questioned Wolf and said it was not true that she had a 30 percent bonus and argued that the 2016 increases were the first master contract raises in nine years" - Karen Billing Reported in her Del Mar Times Article
And then there's the Golden Goose Egg Highest Salary Guarantee Clause that somehow and for unknown reasons continues to be a part of our district's Master Contracts, which do not appear to be reviewed by Board counsel to determine if the provisions in the Master Contracts are sound legally or fiscally:
The administration appears to give the teachers whatever they want because they know that the Board Majority will rubber stamp any recommendation and J.A.B (aka - "Joyce, Amy, Beth") the taxpayers with more me too raises for all.
3. Have these exorbitant raises benefitted the students? The performance metrics have declined. Watchdog has done story after story showing the metrics: Academic decline * Health & Wellness decline * Safety decline * Accountability decline * Transparency decline
Yet, the J.A.B.'ing continues
They continue to allow special privileges to the elite few that bully and abuse their power
JAB does not enforce policies they wrote
JAB approved expulsions and suspensions on the rise
The JAB'ers have no grasp of what it costs to run all school programs and athletics and by the way -- where are our school marching bands? Where are our school swimming pools? School choirs, and more?
When will the J.A.B.'ing stop and our Student's needs be put first using only our tax dollars FIRST and protecting the integrity of our Public Schools?
Articles Included in highlighted links above
"Education Matters: San Dieguito pay raises and more," M. Sutton, Del Mar Times (4/21/18)