Monterey Bay Teachers Union Protests Administrative Raises
April 18, 2011
As budget cuts and teacher layoffs send shock waves through California's K-12 schools, a salary increase for top administrative staff is being blasted by the local teachers union.
A proposal for $56,000 in combined salary increase for the top five Monterey Peninsula Unified School District administrators—also known as the Superintendent's Cabinet—is buried at the bottom of tonight's MPUSD board meeting agenda.
"At a time when all employees are expected to take on one-third more work with one-third less state funding…we are concerned that taking this action now would be sending precisely the wrong message to the public at precisely the wrong time," said Dennis Wright, the president of the Monterey Bay Teachers Association, in a letter sent Monday to the Weekly and other local news outlets. According to Wright, MPUSD schools today have 495 teachers, down more than 30 percent from the 720 who worked for the district in 2008.
The rationale provided by Board President Diane Creasy is that as of last year, cabinet-level administrators began working 230 days instead of their previously contracted 222, in part to compensate for layoffs in the district's administrative staff.
"The current contract requires payment for these additional days at the end of each fiscal year," Creasy said in a letter to district staffers. "These additional days are now being included as normal workdays in the new contract agreement," at no extra cost to the district.
Additionally, said Creasy, the change will bring cabinet adminstrators' salary schedule in line with that of other district management staff. "To date, the Superintendent and Cabinet administrators are the only MPUSD employees that do not receive an annual step increase," Creasy said. This move, as justified by the board, would establish a uniform step increase system for everyone employed by the district.
"When I began teaching here 26 years ago, there were 24 music teachers [in MPUSD]," recalls Wright, a longtime music instructor in the district. "Now, there are five left." With such a shortage of educators, Wright has a hard time understanding how a salary increase to administrators, who make more than teachers to begin with, is justified.
The amount of the increase—rather paltry in the context of a $55 million annual budget—isn't as important to Wright and his colleagues as the message it seems to send: That administrators are worth more than teachers. "I don’t begrudge anyone getting compensation for doing work," Wright says, "but why are a select few getting an increase?" He and others will be on hand at tonight's board meeting in Del Rey Oaks to share these sentiments with the board.
The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Board of Education meets tonight at 7:00 pm at the Instructional Materials Center, 540 Canyon del Rey in Del Rey Oaks