San Dieguito board approves 4% salary boost, one-time payment for certificated teachers

The SDUHSD board met on Sept. 14.
(Karen Billing)

San Dieguito Union High School District teachers will receive a 4% raise as the school board approved a new three-year contract for the 2021-24 school years. The collective bargaining agreement also includes a one-time $3,000 off-schedule payment for the 2021-22 fiscal year, representing $1.2 million.

The increases passed in a 3-1 vote at the Sept. 14 board meeting with Trustee Michael Allman opposed. With the positive vote, teachers erupted in applause.

“The tentative agreement between SDUHSD and SDFA allows this district to stop deficit spending, allows this district to continue to build its reserves…and allows a continued building of programs for students,” said Duncan Brown, president of the San Dieguito Faculty Association (SDFA). “This agreement allows educators to focus back on students without distraction, not having to worry that they have 15 months of contract overdue. This agreement allows educators a bit more protection with their families with record inflation and staggering daily costs.”

“Anyone with a sincere interest in our district recognizes that this is a fair agreement,” Brown continued. “A vote of no is vindictive and personally divisive.”

Per the district’s certificated teachers’ contract, teachers must maintain the number one ranking of highest paid educators in the county for salary. They have not received a salary increase since a 3.5% boost in 2019-20.

The raises amount to $6,271,630 from the general fund.

SDUHSD Trustee Katrina Young said that the topic of teachers and contracts has inexplicably become very polarizing in San Dieguito. She believes that the district can afford the raises and it demonstrates that the district values its teachers and their “incredibly important” work supporting students. President Mo Muir said she was comfortable with the contract because it represented only one year of deficit spending.

In her support of the raises, Trustee Julie Bronstein said the board was counseled by Interim Superintendent Tina Douglas that it was prudent from a fiscal perspective and that the contract was affordable.

“There’s a hemorrhaging of teachers throughout the country and it’s a profession that unfortunately is in decline. By not showing teachers appreciation, we send a message to them that is not correct and not deserved,” Bronstein said. “It is not only prudent and appropriate but necessary for us to move forward with the contract as it has been written.”

In his explanation of his no vote, Allman estimated that the district is paying roughly 20% over-market and the agreement put before the board is a large increase that creates a “substantial” financial deficit, pushing it to almost $15 million.

“We just can’t afford it,” Allman said. “I’m just not a big fan of deficit spending. I think we have to live within our means, I think that’s really an issue for us.”

Allman said he was also concerned that the proposed contract is for three years and wages are only settled for this year. There will be limited re-openers for the 2023-24 school year and he expects to be negotiating salaries again next year.

Allman has clashed with the SDFA since he was elected to the board in 2020 and in 2021 the union led an unsuccessful effort to recall him. While it was stated during public comment that “teachers are the union” and that bashing the union equates to bashing teachers, Allman said he believes many teachers look at the union leadership and may not agree. He was interrupted in his comments several times by teachers in the audience.

During public comment, Brown did not hold back in his criticism of Allman.

“Under your leadership Mr. Allman, we have become a laughingstock, put on the world-wide web for everyone to see. Our district’s cornerstone of pride, collaboration and professionalism is currently overshadowed with divisiveness and chaos,” said Brown. “This is our union sir. Teachers, counselors, school sites are our union...‘Students first’ is a political soundbite for you, these are the people that put students first every day. We stand for all students…Professional educators who are recognized year after year as being the very best educators.

“This is our union, you cannot break us, we will be here long after you.”