The San Dieguito Union High School District board approved a new agreement with the San Dieguito Faculty Association (SDFA), resulting in a 1 percent pay increase retroactive to July 1, 2018. At the board’s March 7 meeting, they approved both the salary increases and the second interim budget for the school year that showed a reduction in deficit spending.
“I have been at all of our schools multiple times and been in a lot of classrooms and I’ve seen some amazing teaching taking place,” SDUHSD Superintendent Robert Haley said. “I want our teachers to be well compensated, I want them to be respected and rewarded for the work that they do because it’s amazing work.”
The approval of the contract and the “productive” negotiations process are a testament to the interest-based bargaining strategy that the union exercises with the district, said Tim Staycer, a Torrey Pines High School teacher and president of the SDFA.
“In light of financial instability that is happening to school districts all over San Diego County and the entire state we are especially proud to say that our working agreement provides a unique opportunity to extend the security and the stability of our members and demonstrates SDFA’s willingness to partner with the district leadership in our combined efforts to work with the district and get out of this deficit spending,” Staycer said. “SDFA realizes that the expectations ranging from academic to contractual are high in this district and is working every day to make San Dieguito a better place in which to work.
“We hope we never take too much for granted.”
The whole contract was reopened during the negotiations process, however, SDUHSD Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Cindy Frazee said only small language changes were made—one update of the contract stemmed from recent legislation changes regarding baby bonding, offering 12 weeks for those coming back from pregnancy disability.
The contract does allow for re-openers for the 2019- 2020 and 2020-2021 school years for wages and health and welfare benefits.
“For the record I believe that teachers should be paid triple,” said board member Melissa Mossy. “But speaking as a taxpayer, I want to make sure we can afford it…I just want confirmation from our team that this is not only fair but is fiscally responsible.”
SDUHSD Associate Superintendent of Business Services Tina Douglas said yes, the district is required to inform the San Diego County Office of Education what the financial impact of salary increases are and whether they can sustain it.
“We are not like other school districts that are declining in enrollment. Fortunately for us, kids want to be here, families want to be here,” Douglas said. “Where other districts are making budget reductions, we actually have a slight increase in enrollment which helps us. So yes, we are ok.”
At the meeting the board approved the second interim budget for the 2018-19 school year, which showed a reduction in deficit spending due to the district changing how its budgets are typically done. Douglas said they are making adjustments so that the budget is more closely aligned to what they have actually been receiving and paying.
Since first interim, revenue has increased $1.2 million to $142,709,473 and expenditures are at $149,359,207, representing a projected $6.6 million deficit. The ending fund balance (reserves) is projected at $12,983,983.
Douglas said that the district has great appreciation for the dollars they receive from the foundations and they have included the donation amount to reflect more of what they see on a yearly basis. As a result there is not the typical large amount that goes unspent that drops the ending fund balance. “We’re trying to budget in a way that is more reflective of how we end the year,” she said.
“And we are making some actual budget reductions and changes,” added Haley. “It’s a good budget.”
Looking at the multi-year projections, deficit spending is expected to drop to $3.5 million in 2019-20 and $656,176 by 2020-21. The district is anticipating 5 percent increases in property taxes, average daily attendance remaining consistent and a decrease in the district’s contribution to the California State Teachers Retirement System (STRS).
“Deficit spending is a complicated topic in school finances, there are different kinds of deficits. We are projecting greatly reducing the amount that we’ve had and we’re still projecting that we’ll have far more than the minimum in our combined reserve,” Haley said.
There are a lot of variables that remain unknown in 2019-20 and 2020-21, but SDUHSD President Beth Hergesheimer said that they are conservative to allow for things that might happen. Haley said he’s “very confident” that they will be where they need to be.
SDUHSD Vice President Mo Muir said she was pleased with the budget she was looking at, complimenting Haley for his work in helping get the budget in shape, a top priority for her in hiring a new superintendent.
“Thank you for coming to our district,” Muir said.