Education Matters: Deepening the district’s deficit, raises were approved at San Dieguito


At the Sept. 14 San Dieguito Union High School District board meeting, trustees in a 3-1 vote awarded the certificated teaching staff a 4% across-the-board salary increase, on top of the usual raises most get each year, called step-and-column.

Marsha Sutton
(File photo)

But apparently that’s not enough.

Before the board was another one-time payment of $3,000 to certificated, confidential and supervisory employees who were employed by the district as of the last day of school in June 2022.

This payment would go to continuing employees as well as employees who left the district since June 30, 2022 but worked there during the 2021-2022 year.

Tina Douglas, interim superintendent, said in an email that the number of certificated employees who will receive the $3,000 is 644, and the number of confidential/supervisory employees is 13.

The total is 657, which comes to a one-time expenditure of $1,971,000. This amount does not include the cost to the district of the 4% salary increase.

According to information provided by SDUHSD Communications Coordinator Miguel Jacobs, 19 employees who have since left the district will receive the $3,000 because they worked at SDUHSD last school year. That totals $57,000 to employees no longer working at the district.

Douglas said that classified employees last year received a $3,000 one-time payment.

She said the classified union’s agreement included a me-too clause that stated that “if certificated negotiated anything more than that for the 21/22 school year, they would get the same. Certificated settled for the same one-time payment in fiscal year 21/22.”

Last year’s $3,000 payment to classified employees included 15 retirees who are no longer employed by the district, Jacobs said.

Approval for the payment for management employees will be presented at the Oct. 13 school board meeting, he wrote in an email.

When asked if former superintendent Cheryl James-Ward would qualify to receive the $3,000, Jacobs said she is on the executive level salary structure, not management, so would not be included to receive the payment at the Oct. 13 board meeting.

Deficit spending

When the item passed by a vote of 3-1 (trustee Allman opposed), the room erupted in cheers.

Allman said he opposed the raises and one time payment due to the increase in the size of the district’s deficit as a result.

A chart provided by Douglas at the Sept. 14 meeting shows a current existing deficit of just under $7 million. With the agreed contract, the deficit increases to $14.8 million.

“A $15 million deficit on a $170 million revenue budget is almost 9% of revenues,” Allman said. “That is right off of our reserves. I’m not sure we have ever had that large of a budget deficit.”

Many were surprised that trustee Maureen Muir voted to approve the raise and one-time payment, given her previous indications of concern for the district’s widening deficit.

Muir emailed the following comments on her decision:

“While I have voted against the Teacher’s contract in the past for its lack of best management practices, along with some specific financial concerns and obligations contained within the contract, I support this recent contract with the teachers union for the following reasons:

• The district educational system is #1 in the county and #5 in the state.

• Teachers are the cornerstone of our educational system and need to be compensated appropriately.

• The teachers and classifieds haven’t had a salary scheduled increase in approximately two years. Additional delays would’ve continued to affect morale.

• Recruitment and retention of good teachers are dropping and it needs to be addressed. Cost of Living for SD County was 6%.

• The recent Governor’s budget increased our funding. At the same time, the district’s financial experts and negotiators told the board that the contract was financially acceptable to our budgetary goals, brings the district out of the RED and into the BLACK by next year, increases our reserves for the next three years, and was fair to both sides.

I sincerely hope the teachers and the board can find a balance of unity between the teachers, board, parents, and taxpayers that provides a balanced budget with continuous improvement of resource procurement and increased educational enhancements for student growth and achievement.”

Opinion columnist and education writer Marsha Sutton can be reached at

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3:31 p.m. Sept. 23, 2022: This column was updated to include a comment from SDUHSD Board President Maureen Muir