News

Teachers, school staff OK salary freeze

Teachers and staff of the local high school district have agreed to forego salary increases for two years. The pay freeze, together with a change in retirement benefits for some staff members, will help the Mountain View Los Altos high school district save money, officials said.

At its Sept. 13 meeting, the high school board approved salary freezes for teachers and school staff represented by the California School Employees Association.

The teachers union and the local chapter of the CSEA went along with the district's plan, which ensures that salaries will not increase for employees represented by either union until the 2011-2012 school year at the earliest.

"Our whole goal is to maintain the current salaries and benefits, avoid furlough days and possible layoffs," said Chris Pedersen, a labor relations representative for the CSEA. Superintendent Barry Groves said that the district has made $3.2 million in cuts to its budget over the last two years, and in order to "stay solvent" the district needs to take a long view of its financial situation.

"We're looking at not only this year, but trying to balance our budget in the future," Groves said.

Pedersen said the CSEA understands the district's efforts to save money in trying financial times. "Given the state of the state and current funding, it's the only real option," he said, in reference to the current long-stalled California budget, which was scheduled to be passed on July 1, but has yet to be approved.

Without a budget in place, school districts can only estimate the funding they might receive from the state. Groves said the district is anticipating a $1 million reduction once the Legislature approves a state budget.

Groves also said the district will see a 1.7 percent dip in revenue from property taxes this year.

The district is also making a change to the health benefits package of retiring classified employees, identified as anyone who is not a manager or a teacher.

The change stipulates that when a classified employee retires, if the employee is eligible to receive health benefits the district will pay only up to the amount it pays for current employees for coverage. Groves said that change will likely be approved at the next school board meeting.

Groves said that due to the uncertainty of the state budget, the property tax decrease and the fact that salary increases are negotiated anew each year he is not sure how much money the district will save when the changes are implemented.

MVLA salary freeze

Comments

Posted by Martin Omander, a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Giving up two years of raises when you don't make that much to begin with must be hard. I salute the teachers for pitching in and helping turn things around!


Posted by steve, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm

@Martin Omander: Gov workers on the whole make *more* than their colleagues in the private sector (google "public sector vs private sector pay"). These higher salaries comes along with rich healthcare and retirement benefits many of which private sector employees can only dream about.

As far teacher salaries go, they are not as low as you seem to think they are. For example, Mountain View - Los Altos Union avg salary is $95,365/yr and Mountain View Whisman avg salary is $61,147. Hardly subsistence living. (source: Web Link). And how many months out of the year do teachers work?

Interestingly in California approx. 60% of the education dollars go to the classroom and 40% to overhead. Ever tried running a business with 40% overhead?

Aside from the fact that pay raises should be based on merit and not some enshrinement in an union contract, this is typical of the government worker's mentality that somehow forgoing pay increases in an environment of declining prices and salaries is a big sacrifice and as such laudable.

Many people in the the private sector have either lost their jobs or have suffered pay cuts. How about our public sector workers operating under the same rules? Quite frankly, maintaining salaries and benefits at current levels is a victory for them and their unions.

Bottom line is that the public sector unions have figured out that the general population is onto them and they are basically making token "concessions" in order to dissipate the anger and frustration.




Posted by jupiterk, a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 4, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Steve:
Your points are valid. But I am not sure if it is only the teachers with very long years of service make $95K or even the ones with less than 10 yrs of experience. I am not sure if your figures include the pension plan benefits,etc...Anyways , teachers work 8 to 9 months a year and it seems to me they are making >10K a month for what they do. I am OK with it as long as residents think they are getting what they pay for.

What riles me up is the city manager making > 300K, police and fire fighters making close to $200K, absolute ripoff of the worst order.


Posted by BD, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2010 at 6:39 am

I think the health insurance change sounds eminently reasonable - I hope it goes through.


Posted by "Just Think About It", a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Steve of Old Mountain View, you have hit the nail right on the head. It makes me wonder how these people can complain, complain and complain. Do they think we are stupid. When I am around them all I hear is how they are under paid, have poor working conditions and wonder how anyone could think anything negative about them. Almost all teachers I have ever talked to complain about their salary and about long hours working on lesson plans and grading papers. If they don't like the profession they have chosen they should quit. I pass several schools going to and from work everyday. In the morning they have not yet arrived at school. In the evening they have already gone home or wherever. I'm reminded how they have to take continuing education classes to stay current. What do they think professionals in industry do? Educators seem to get every holiday in creation off as well as a couple of months in the summer. Maybe it's time for some of them to get out into industry and work is really like. All they do is complain, complain, complain..............And I won't even start about other benefits they receive.................


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