Salary negotiations continue for San Dieguito classified staff

Exterior of the San Dieguito Union High School District administration offices.
(Karen Billing)

San Dieguito Union High School District’s classified employees again rallied at the board’s Nov. 7 meeting, as they seek “fairness and equity” in their ongoing salary negotiations.

Meeting at the bargaining table with the district over the last several months, the California School Employees Association (CSEA) has dropped its initial request for a five percent raise down to 3.25 percent. In response, the district has offered a one percent salary increase, the same that was given to certificated teachers and administration in March following negotiations with the San Dieguito Faculty Association.

According to Superintendent Robert Haley, the district met with CSEA on Nov. 12 and said he believes they are making progress toward a settlement. “We hope to have this resolved prior to next month’s board meeting,” he said.

Classified employees have come to the board meetings since May to voice their concerns over the 2018-19 contract negotiations, asking for a salary increase that keeps up with the cost of living in San Diego and reflects their workloads which they say have increased.

According to the CSEA, school support staff including para-educators, custodians, secretaries and food service workers object to the district adding management positions and additional landscaping while cutting student services and demanding more work from support staff members.

“We are all fortunate to have our jobs and we love what we do but we have seen so much waste of money and labor going through our departments,” said maintenance worker Sam Flores.

Flores said they would like to see compensation for the added work they are taking on with “significantly” less classified staff, even though the district has the highest student enrollment in its history and has expanded its facilities.

“To do double or triple the amount of work for the same pay is unacceptable,” said Carmel Valley Middle School custodian Shaylee Zeller, adding that being short-staffed creates a struggle to maintain the school’s basic needs for a safe and clean working and learning environment.

“Every month we come here to these board meetings asking you to listen to us and you continue to ignore our requests for equity,” said Marielle Bravo-Saltzman, attendance secretary at Canyon Crest Academy. In a board room full of classified staff members, Bravo-Saltzman said she wanted the board to acknowledge that they are just as important to the sites and to students as certificated teachers, who have it in their contracts to be the top paid in San Diego County. According to CSEA, San Dieguito’s classified staff rankings range from second to ninth in salary in the county, with the average of seventh.

“Look up,” Bravo-Saltzman said. “See us. Respect us.”

Although the board cannot respond to public comment, throughout the negotiations Superintendent Haley has maintained that the district respects its classified staff and knows that the work they do for classrooms and schools is “critical for all students to receive a successful education.”