Wilmar Teachers Association
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August 23, 2019 - Superintendent's email dated 9/22/19
Thank you to the parents who expressed their support and also forwarded me the email Superintendent Garvey sent to parents yesterday.
Some of the Q&A's have erroneous information. We have provided our answers in bold:
FAQ No. 1 – August 22, 2019
Q: Does WTA know this?
A: Yes. WTA knows that, even without a raise, the District is drawing upon the one-time reserve fund due to projected deficit spending. The District is working on balancing the budget which may involve cuts to eliminate projected deficit spending. It is only one time funds because they don’t adhere to the law and prioritize the teachers and negotiations when they adopt the budget in the summer with zero for the teachers and then months later in negotiations say there is nothing/little left.
Educational Employment Relations Act, Section 3543.7
“3543.7. Duty to meet and negotiate in good faith; time
The duty to meet and negotiate in good faith requires the parties to begin negotiations prior to the adoption of the final budget for the ensuing year sufficiently in advance of such adoption date so that there is adequate time for agreement to be reached, or for the resolution of an impasse.”
- Typically what happens is that the districts adopt a budget by June 30th with 0% for the teachers and then months into the year the teachers are told there is nothing left for them. We are trying to change this.
- Teachers must be a priority in the budget, in the adoption of the budget, and in negotiations. This is why we are seeking a multi-year agreement that forces the district to prioritize the teachers in the budget process instead of literally making them last.
Q: Why does WTA believe there is enough money to pay for the raise it demands?
A: There are two kinds of income the District receives. The first kind is “ongoing income.” Ongoing income is made up of income streams that the District can expect to receive every year from the State of California. But the District also receives “one-time money.” One-time money is funds the District receives once and cannot expect to receive again. Such funds come from grants, donations and other sources. WTA is asking the District to finance an ongoing raise with one-time money. The present salary schedule compensates our most junior teacher at $54,408 per their 186 day contract and the most senior teacher at $82,808 per their 186 day contract. The top step of our salary schedule, with 25 years of experience is $86,969 with district paid contributions to health benefits in addition to the salary.
Aside from the serious budget adoption/priority issue above, if these are “one-time” monies why do they continue to go up every year? (see graph depicting such on this site)
Q: Why can't the District pay teachers the 2017-18 statewide average salary of $80,680?
A: There are approximately 1000 districts in the State of California varying in size and student demographics. This would include large districts such as LA Unified, San Diego Unified, and smaller districts such as Beverly Hills Unified and Redondo Unified that can independently raise money for salaries from their high property tax base. In addition the average does not include a mix of newer teachers versus more veteran teachers. School districts with more veteran teachers (determined based on length of time working) will have a higher average salary than that of our teachers. It is a false equivalency to compare our school district with other districts that are not like Wilmar. Wilmar is a rural, small, one school district, whose largest revenue stream comes from the State based upon enrollments, average daily attendance, and student demographics. Wilmar does not have a rich property tax base that could provide twice the funding per student, nor does it have an ongoing parcel tax or an ongoing school foundation that provides financial support of costly programs and projects. This being said, the District is trying to pay Wilson's wonderful teachers as much as is possible without threatening financial insolvency for the school's future, or causing drastic cuts that may hurt the quality of education that Wilson currently provides.
Even if you pull out the big Unified districts like LA Unified, San Diego Unified, etc., and just look at the Statewide Average Elementary Teacher Pay, it is still over $80K while Wilmar is at $64,568. Additionally, elementary district make up more than half of all the districts in the state.
- Statewide Average Teacher Pay $80,680 (J-90 Forms – California Dept. of Education)
- Statewide Average Elementary Teacher Pay $80,269 (J-90 Forms 2017-18)
- Statewide Average Unified Teacher Pay $80,058 (J-J0 Forms 2017-18) – i.e. LA Unified, San Diego Unified, Long Beach Unified, etc.
- Wilmar Average Teacher Pay $64,568 (J-90 Form – 2017-18)
Q: How does Wilmar compare with Sonoma County School Districts' current salary settlements?
A: Very few Sonoma County districts have agreed to large raises (salary settlements). The vast majority have settled for a 2% to 5% increase. Comparing our district with other districts with different financial circumstances is like comparing an apple with an orange, but Wilmar wholly values Wilson's teaching staff and support staff and dedicates nearly 82% of its entire budget to salaries and benefits.
School Services of CA, June 15, 2018, Employee Salaries and Benefits Consume the Lion’s Share of District Expenditures:
- “Most expenditures of school districts are for the payment of salaries and benefits for the employees and the retirees of the school district. It takes people to teach people, and in California, more than 85% of an average school district’s unrestricted General Fund expenditures are for the services of its employees.”
- Is Wilmar at 85-90%? No. 78.07%
- District has a history of lack of investment in its teachers. School Services of CA Statewide Avg. for Certificated Barg. Unit Salaries – 44%; Wilmar – 34.41%
Other neighboring Sonoma County districts have shown that this situation can be addressed:
- Sonoma COE – 3 year deal of 4.5%, 4.5%, 3% with excellent healthcare intact.
- Oak Grove – 3 year deal of 5%, 5%, 3% with good healthcare.
- Gravenstein - 3 year deal of 5%, 4% after every cell on the salary schedule goes up $1,500 (roughly 6%), 3% with significant healthcare increases.
- Sebastopol – 2 year deal of 5%, 4%.
- Twin Hills – 2 year deal of 5%, 4.5%
- Forestville – 3 year deal of 5%, 5%, 3% with significant healthcare increases.
- How Does Sonoma County Compare with Neighboring Counties?
Average Teacher Pay
- Neighboring Shoreline Unified (Marin County) Average Teacher Pay: $85,157.
- Wilmar Average Teacher Pay: $64,568.
Type of District
Statewide Average Contribution to Healthcare Benefits 2017-2018
Type of District
Wilmar Average Contribution to Healthcare Benefits 2017-2018
Q: If WTA strikes, will our school remain open?
A: Yes. Our school will remain open, safe and functional in the event of a work stoppage. However, a strike could require all before and after school activities to be suspended. That is what they said at Forestville. The few parents who sent there kids found out very quickly that it was chaos and complained.
Q. If WTA strikes, are all teachers required to strike?
A. No. Union members are not required to strike. It is up to each individual to decide if he or she chooses to join a strike. Wilmar Teachers took a 100% unanimous strike vote the first day of the work year, so no Wilson Teachers will be in their classrooms during a strike.
Q: What can we do to support funding for schools?
A: California school districts are severely underfunded. Linked to this FAQ sheet is an article by Dr. Steven Herrington,the Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools, where he discusses the funding shortfall for California public schools.
Please go to fullandfairfunding.com and sign the California School Boards Association petition to the legislature to fully fund our schools. Please also consider contacting your local representative in our legislature to encourage them to increase school funding, including funding that can be used for teacher salaries.
Again, if they are so underfunded, then why do their unrestricted monies at the end of the year increase every year?
The following is a press release we sent out last week after we met as a union and took a unanimous vote to strike if we need to. This does not mean we are striking... it just gives us the authority to strike. We are currently waiting on a date for our Fact Finding hearing and we will keep everyone updated.
The teachers will continue to show solidarity by wearing red every Monday.
Wilmar Teachers Association
Petaluma, CA 94952
Janice Garrigan, WTA President: WeAreWTA@gmail.com
Emily Novoa, WTA Bargaining Co-Chair:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2019
Wilmar Teachers Unanimously Vote to Strike
Frustrated Educators Heading to Fact Finding, Last Legal Step Before Striking
PETALUMA – Today, the Wilmar Teachers Association (WTA) unanimously voted to authorize a strike if needed. The Wilmar Union School District (WUSD) and WTA are heading into fact finding after mediation efforts failed on July 25th. Negotiations have gone nowhere in this financially sound district because of the district managers’ refusal to invest in attracting and training the best teachers for Wilmar students.
“There is no other expenditure more important than investing in a stable and highly qualified team of educators to work directly with our students,” said WTA President Janice Garrigan. “Our students’ teachers are financially overwhelmed and struggle to afford basic necessities, like rent and healthcare. Wilmar will never be able to retain and recruit the best educators for our students without a long-term written commitment to fix this situation.”
The WUSD continued refusal to bargain in good faith is forcing negotiations into fact finding, the final step in the negotiations process. Once the process has been exhausted, the teachers have the right to go on strike.
“We’ve done our homework and WUSD managers can afford our proposal. WUSD can afford to provide teachers a living wage,” she added. WUSD ended the last year school year with 38.8% ($925,851) in total unrestricted monies and budgeted to end this year with even more –$974,723 (39.19%). Salaries for the entire teaching staff in 2017-18 only amounted to $821,243.
Sonoma County is recognized as one of the least affordable counties in the state and nation for educators. WUSD is a TK – 6 district and serves 250 students. Wilmar teachers make almost 25% below the statewide average and WUSD offers one of the lowest average teacher salaries in the county of 39 school districts.
“We think it’s time to make teachers and our classrooms a priority,” Garrigan said.
While the Sonoma County Office of Education and several districts like Oak Grove, Gravenstein and Sebastopol have settled contracts that address teacher recruitment and retention, other Sonoma County teacher unions are facing similar challenges. Teachers in Forestville are striking now. Educators in West Sonoma County High School, Harmony and Two Rock districts have taken strike votes and others, Bellevue and Cloverdale, are in the impasse mediation process.
The Wilmar Teachers Association is affiliated with the 325,000-member
California Teachers Association and the 3.2-million-member National Education Association.
August 12, 2019:
There is a Board Meeting scheduled for August 15th at 7pm. In the agenda they are asking to approve $6624.00 in checks to their attorney for negotiations (so far!).
Please, if you'll already be at Back-to-School night that evening, attend the Board Meeting and voice your concerns over how they're spending (and not spending) their money.
July 25, 2019:
Today's meager efforts on the part of the district to come to a settlement were unsuccessful. We are moving to the next step of the process, Fact Finding. The offer put forth today to the Association by the district felt disrespectful. We are frustrated and disillusioned that this process will continue. We are, have always been, and always will be dedicated to the education and welfare of your children.
June 26, 2019:
At this juncture, the negotiations have gone to mediation. In June we declared impasse as the district was not willing to honor our request of a 5% increase each year for the next 3 years, nor the increase we need to help cover our exorbitant out-of-pocket medical benefits.
The first mediation session was held on June 26th and only resulted in another date which will be July 25th. We are hopeful an agreement can be reached before the start of the school year, but we are willing to keep up talks as long as need be.
As can be seen from the documented facts here and on their district budget for this year and the next two (first image below), the district has the money to pay teachers what they ask, so we are sticking to our "last, best, final" request. The budgets are always public documents so we encourage parents to have a look and see for themselves. They have projected large reserves in the future, and these are only estimates at any given time.
It is of particular interest to note that this year's beginning fund balance is approximately $800,000 but what was PROJECTED for this year in the last 3-year budget (second document) was only $73,832.73. That is alarmingly off, so we can determine that these projections tend to be quite a bit ($720,000 in this case) below what the district actually ends with. Both of those budget documents are as follows:
Wilmar Teachers at impasse
Negotiations will continue on July 25, 2019 between the district and WTA. A state-appointed mediator will be in attendance to try to help us reach an agreement. If and when all efforts to reach a conclusion do not come to fruition, we move to fact-finding. Neither mediation nor fact-finding are binding decisions, but rather efforts towards an agreement that feels satisfactory to both parties.