LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Teacher Salaries and Change

A closer look at teacher salaries in Capistrano Unified does not change the author's mind that parents and teachers should unite to change the funding formulas for schools, not to pass higher taxes.


By Dawn Urbanek

Marcus Walton, chief communications officer for CUSD, called and expressed several concerns the district had with and asked me to further clarify a couple of items. In the spirit of working with CUSD staff, as I have always done, I agreed to review and clarify a couple of points. I will do these in pieces so as to keep comments brief and to the point.


I used the database published by the Orange County Register to check the salaries of Superintendent Joseph Farley and the staff at my school so I could see for myself whether or not salaries went up or down this year.

Mr. Walton stated that the database published by the Orange County Register can present flawed conclusions about total compensation because the database reflects "base" salary only. The $7,000 in additional pay that Superintendent Farley received was reimbursement for milage and not an actual pay increase.

Mr. Walton stated that teachers salaries actually went down from 2009-10 to 2010-11. Mr. Walton and I had a lengthily discussion about the database, salary trends, furlough days, the restoration of teachers' pay and the difference between a real cut and cuts to projected salary increases.

The following data should put this issue to bed.  

Every year the California Department of Education School Fiscal Services Division prepares a report entitled "Selected Certificated Salaries and Related Statistics." The data used to compile the report is provided to the California Department of Education voluntarily by each of the collective bargaining units on a yearly basis. I pulled each individual report for the last 12 years (see the graphic attached to this letter for a summary that I compiled for CUSD only).

Total Lowest Lowest Average Top Salary Schedule Schedule Schedule Entry
Schedule Salary Salary Salary Level Year F-T-E Offered Description Paid Step 2010-11 2,125 48,312 BA<45 77,508 11 2009-10 2,039 48,899 BA<45 79,784 11 2008-09 2,350 48,899 BA<45 76,384 11 2007-08 2,313 48,899 BA<45 75,390 12 2006-07 2,319 42,635 BA 70,974 12 2005-06 2,301 40,995 BA 67,801 12 2004-05 2,273 38,277 BA 63,282 12 2003-04 2,244 38,277 BA 62,622 12 2002-03 2,263 38,277 BA 61,620 12 2001-02 2,203 37,000 BA 57,094 6 2000- 01 2,131 37,000 BA 56,387 6 1999 -00 2,077 36,040 BA 50,346 6


Top Salary At No of P-2 % Salary Bachlr+60 Service ADA Salary
Level Step 10 Days Change Year Paid Offered Req 2010-11 97,766 72,593 182 49354 -1.2 2009-10 98,931 73,476 185 49889 0 2008-09 97,031 73,476 185 50,077 0 2007-08 97,031 73,476 185 49,137 3 2006-07 94,205 68,923 185 48,713 4 2005-06 90,583 66,273 185 48,515 5 2004-05 86,477 61,689 185 48,130 0 2003-04 86,477 61,879 185 47,458 0 2002-03 86,477 61,879 185 46,291 2 2001-02 79,725 58,614 185 44,624 0 2000- 01 79,725 58,614 185 43,160 13 1999-00 69,955 51,737 185 41,871 3

Certificated Salaries & Benefits

Downloadable data files from the annual report Salary and Benefits Schedule for the Certificated Bargaining Unit (Form J-90).

What does the data show? The data shows that Mr. Walton is correct: the average scheduled salary paid dropped 1.2 percent from 2009-10 to 2010-11 (from an all time high of $79,784 in 2009-10 to $77,508 in 2010-11).

The data also shows that the average schedule salary paid has increased every year... 11 of the last 12 years from a low of $50,346 to an all-time high 2009-10 of $79,784 (an increase of 63 percent). These salary increases continued each year, despite budget issues that have required CUSD to cut $98 million dollars from its budget. See: Budget Reductions Since 2006

The point of my letter was to illustrate that CUSD cannot continue to "automatically" increase expenses (salaries, pensions and benefits now 92 percent of the budget) while revenues continue to decrease. To do so harms core educational programs.

For the last 12 years, increases in employee compensation have been paid for by class-size increases and cuts to everything that is not "core." The district is currently facing an additional $50 million dollars in cuts to balance its budget. 

Even if voters pass a tax increase, CUSD will only receive 6 cents out of every dollar. Orange County keeps such a small percentage of our tax base that our schools cannot hope to stay solvent without restructuring education funding in California.  

What I had hoped would result from the letter I wrote is a discussion on uniting all Orange County residents to change funding formulas (a solution to the funding problems in our district) so that Orange County can keep more of the tax money that we already pay. Not only would this benefit our schools, it would provide money for all county services. 

The answer for CUSD is not "MORE TAXES." Rather, it is a "A FAIRER DISTRIBUTION OF THE TAXES THAT ORANGE COUNTY RESIDENTS ALREADY PAY," an argument that the "STATE" unions do not want to hear. 

As a parent who does not want to see class sizes get any bigger, or see lost instructional minutes from the possibility of 15 furlough days I was hoping we could find better, more long-term solutions to our financial problems by working together as Orange County residents and not support state union positions which hurt Orange County children more than children living in any other county.

Dawn Urbanek is a mom with children at Capistrano Unified School District.

bbq April 08, 2012 at 05:01 AM
First, I would not benefit either way. My taxes are high now and they would be higher if a tax increase were passed. Second, I seriously doubt that any tax increase would "go directly to the children" of my community. The money will go to the big bureaucracy and benefits. How will that help the children? Third, good for you if you want to pay higher taxes, but more taxes beget more taxes - it's never enough. It's time to work within the budget. I'm sure there is a ton of fat that can be cut.
shelly April 08, 2012 at 05:12 AM
bbq, yes, taxes if designated can go directly to schools. There is not a ton of fat to be cut from education. The class sizes are increasing and programs are being cut. If taxes do not increase you will benefit financially but the children of our community will not benefit.
bbq April 08, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Shelly, I don't have enough faith in our government to believe that the designated dollars will go directly to the classrooms. If our own county supervisors are withholding money from the school district, the lottery dollars are not being allocated to education as they were supposed to be, etc., what makes you think that a special tax will be diverted to the schools?
shelly April 09, 2012 at 06:15 PM
bbq, Because a tax that is designated soley for education can only go to education.
just a parent April 09, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I understand that there is a flaw in the current funding formula such that CUSD received less per student than many other districts in this state. Since the state has a fixed pot of money available to put towards schools, I would be curious to know how Dawn proposes that this formula be fixed. As far as I can see, the only way to add funding to CUSD is to reduce funding from other districts to shift to CUSD. While this in theory may be fair and this discussion has been and will continue to take place in the future; in practice, this sort of shift will not occur any time in the near future and certainly not in a time of dwindling resources. So, without new revenue via taxes to go to our schools, our CUSD students will continue to suffer more and more. I will personally pay a little more in taxes to make sure that our kids don't pay the price for a situation that they did not create. Also, I would love Dawn to clarify this statement: "Even if voters pass a tax increase, CUSD will only receive 6 cents out of every dollar." Where did this statistic come from? Did someone analyze the the proposed tax initiatives for the November ballot to determine this statistic???


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