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News Messenger 10-23-15

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Sac City Needs to Recruit and Retain Teachers
How and Why the District Should Raise Wages Immediately   
Two weeks before school started this summer, our District had more than fifty teacher vacancies to fill:  23 in general education and 28 in special education.  Six weeks into the school year, vacancies remain. Perhaps the biggest recruiting impediment is the lack of competitive wages our District pays teachers.
To make things worse, several well-respected, experienced and dedicated teachers left the District to take positions in neighboring districts.
Why?  For some it was because class sizes in neighboring districts are lower.  For example, at Elk Grove K-3 classes are already at 24 to 1.
For most, however, it’s because pay for educators at Sac City is well below regional and statewide standards.
The graph below shows comparable wage data from 2013-14 (the most recent year available).  Sac City teachers at Step 12 (just as one example) earn 12 to 26% less than teachers in Elk Grove, Folsom-Cordova, and San Juan.
Including more recent wage settlements,  Sac City teachers are even further behind:  from 18 to 31% below area standards.
Unfortunately, the District also fails to measure up when compared statewide.  Looking at the twenty-five districts in California that have 30,000 or more students, Sac City is 24th out of 25th when compared to other teachers at Step 12.  As the graph below shows, Sac City teachers are paid 49% below Anaheim and 18% lower than even Fresno.

Ironically, after trying to attack our benefits for the past year, the District is now trying to justify paying lower wages because of how good our benefits are and now argue that those benefits help to attract and retain teachers in the District.  We agree that our benefits are good and should be left alone, but the District’s argument regarding wages is not supported by the facts.
Even including the cost of benefits, the average Sac City teacher lags behind the average Elk Grove teacher by 10%, Folsom Cordova by 5.4% and San Juan by 10%.
If teachers are paid below market, how does the District treat top administrators?
Of the 25 comparable statewide districts, Sac City is in the top third (7th out of 25th) on the percentage of District’s budget spent on Administrators’ salaries.  See the graph below.
Even more pointedly, while Sac City teachers are the lowest paid among the school districts in Sacramento County, our superintendent–at $290,000 per year–is the highest paid, earning from 7 to 18% more than his counterparts.
 
The District’s vastly improved economic status provides a real opportunity to correct these misplaced priorities.
The District is in the best financial position it has been in for a generation.
This year alone the District will receive an increase of more than $45 million in revenue over and above last year.  $29 million out of that $45 million are ongoing, rather than one-time, dollars.
While we were both surprised and disappointed that the District rejected our proposal to accelerate class size reduction, our re-opener on wage enhancements gives the District the opportunity to begin to address the significant teacher recruitment and retention crisis.
It’s time for the District to do the right thing; it clearly has the resources to do so.
We have proposed to the District an immediate five percent (5%) wage increase, retroactive to July 1, 2015, a proposal that we believe is both fair and reasonable and one that the District can afford.
We meet with the District next week to hear its response.  Stay tuned.
Dental Plan Update
Choices Now Include Premier Access   
 
Apparently the latest round of mistakes from Keenan (the District’s insurance broker) have been corrected enough to allow certificated employees the appropriate choices regarding dental plans.
These are the instruction provided by the District:
“CERTIFICATED EMPLOYEES:   Your dental plan options include Premier Access, which is not listed here on Benefit Bridge.  If you would like to choose the Premier Access dental plan, please complete the enrollment form found under Employee Shortcuts/Resource Library and submit the Benefit Enrollment form to the Benefits Department by 10/27/15  via fax, email or standard mail.
Fax:                      (916) 399-2056
Email:                  benefits@scusd.edu
Address:              Sacramento City Unified School  District
                              Benefits Department, Box 840B
                              Sacramento, CA 95824
All Employees:  BenefitBridge performs best via Internet Explorer or Chrome.  Please contact your IT Dept for questions about browsers.”
Flexible Spending Account Open Enrollment
Deadline is November 6, 2015   
 
As employees of SCUSD, we may enroll in a Flexible Benefit Plan for Medical Expenses (up to $2500) or Dependent Care (up to $5000) per year.  This allows for designated installments of money to be removed from your pay check pre-tax and returned to you upon completion of paperwork after the expense has occurred.     Enrolled plans are effective for the calendar year beginning January 1, 2016. You must re-enroll each year.  Members who participate find this a valuable way to make your paycheck stretch farther.  Forms can be found on the district website or by clicking here.
Forms are due by November 6, 2015.
Athletic Grants Available
Deadline is January 15, 2016   
Public high schools in California can score up to $3,000 for their sports departments with a California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant. California Casualty, provider of the CTA Auto and Home Insurance Program, is providing $100,000 to offset budget cuts that have affected high school athletics.  Details and entry forms can be found by clicking here.  Applications must be received by January 15, 2016 for 2015/2016 consideration.
This past year, 14 California Schools shared $17,000 to offset participation fees, buy new uniforms and purchase concussion preventing helmets. Since its inception, more than $400,000 has been awarded to hundreds of public high schools across the U.S.
3rd Notice:  School Site Council Training November 2nd at SCTA 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For Teachers and Parents!

SCTA will be offering a workshop for School Site Council members to learn their legal obligations and gain skills and knowledge to participate in their School Site councils within the Local Control Formula (LCAP / Local Control Accountability Plan).

The workshop will cover:

  • The Local Control Funding Formula
  •  Single Plan for Student Achievement
  • Program Improvement
  • School Change

The goal of this training is to educate, advocate and empower all school site council members to understand their roles and importance to the school.  

 

Parents serving on school site councils are invited and encouraged to attend.

The training will be held at SCTA, 5300 Elvas Avenue, Sacramento 95819.

Light dinner will be provided.

 

Training will be provided by Jane Robb, from the Instruction and Professional
Development Department of the California Teachers Association.

Reminder: Tutorial Opportunities for Sac City Teachers.
NCLB Supplemental Educational Services (SES) Agreement Finalized
 
Our agreement with the District regarding the NCLB Supplemental Education Services (SES) Teacher Tutors is in place.  The agreement can be viewed here.

The program will pay participating teachers $70 per hour for twenty-nine (29) hours.  Unlike other SES programs, some of which have been less than optimal, this program–where the District is program provider–has the support of SCTA.

For a flyer that provides an oversight of the program, click here.

For more details on the expectations for participating teachers, click here.

If you are interesting in applying, you can click here.

The application deadline is October 27th.

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