“Pay Us More and Show Us Respect with a Decent, Fair Offer,” Say TeachersOct 27, 2023 04:53PM ● By Sharon Pearce
FOLSOM-CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - “A two percent (2%) raise feels like an insult,” was the phrase echoed through the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District Board meeting October 19th.
A sea of red shirts and skirts met the full Board with extensive rebuke from all directions, e.g., facts, stats, expectations, Measure M and its shortcoming, and the visceral pain of feeling of lesser value to society than a fast food worker. A SEIU spokesperson presented data that showed an increase in budget for the District despite its low pay raise offer, asking that a budget increase for teachers be factored “from the get-go” in the future. Budgeting for teachers as a process was requested rather than just regularly engaging in negotiations.
A career Navy officer, Justin Long, moving to Rancho Cordova in his retirement, who managed analytics for recruitment at the highest level for the US Navy and government, offered that the analytics he pulled with an MIT expert earlier in the day affirmed what he had already tested, that Rancho Cordova, by zip code, is a “hot spot” for growth and increased income in the nation. Its teachers are being paid too little, he commented, as he presented statistics.
On the 13 consent items, all were initially approved but two. On one, hiring architects, Board was told seven were interviewed for new projects, and five were hired. The Board questioned the spokesperson on any special backgrounds the new hires had in school design and were told they had that. The item was then unanimously passed.
On the other pulled item as to spending over $5 million this year, for renewal for nonpublic schools Master Contracts for 2023-2024 School Year, answers as to the high cost were given that students have behavior, mental health and transportation needs. Not only is lunch provided, but now it is breakfast and lunch. Insurance changed on sexual abuse and molestation rates for non-public schools. A cost increase was added for garbage pickup of food waste. Significant mental health needs drive up costs, the Board was told. Asked if this was a trend, the answer was ‘Yes.” This item was then approved unanimously.
The two Instructional Calendar choices offered saw staff and student markedly preferring the proposed “A” Calendar, which offered the “ski week” in February under the argument it gave more time then to preparing for testing for students and teachers later. Starting earlier in August presented problems. Extended learning could provide daycare where necessary to accommodate parents, it was stated. Parents preferred the traditional “B” model school start time.
Don Ogden, HR director, also stated standardizing Easter Break won’t be looked at until Year 2025-26 when Spring Break coincides with Easter anyway.
Feedback to the survey, also translated into Spanish, showed a response rate of ¾ from Folsom, and ¼ from Rancho Cordova, with students and staff still preferring the newer “A” calendar and parents “B.” Some teachers indicated they didn’t like working summers. A version of A passed 4:1.
HR Best Practices were reviewed in a slide presentation by Mr. Don Ogden reporting “a lot of HRs are doing away with asking for letters of recommendation. “They are not finding it really helpful.” The school is now using the screener Edjoin.
On background checks, Ogden reported Human Resources must identify and disclose any felony, forced terminations, and handicaps of the applicant who must meet minimum qualifications. The probationary time frame was reduced to six months. Finger-printing is required, and if an employee has been arrested, the finger print report comes to HR the next day, along with past records. Applicants are screened with the FBI, and for TB, and some must take a pre-employment physical. Drug testing is required for Transport jobs.
Some applicants must take a typing test. The DMV is checked for drivers. Consumer Affairs is checked for licensed applicants; and with all classified staff, licensure is verified. For DOJ and FBI checks, cost is born by applicant, currently at $62. HR checks on speeding tickets for bus driver applicants and if a driver is released, HR reports that to the DMV. If a licensed employee is released, HR would let its licensing authority know.
There are a lot of investigations and clearances for coaches, said Peter Maroon, District Director of Athletics, and noted that the Governor recently signed a more demanding bill requiring clearances be met. Buses contain videos; so problems on them can be reviewed, if there is a report.
HR has six teachers mentoring other teachers, which is “unique to our District,” said Ogden. “We pay stipends, and also interns for specific things. Progressive Disciplines (as to Compliances) are high. If performance times are not used well due to poor lesson planning, that is addressed in an evaluation.”
A caller asked about fentanyl, the one pill that can kill and was told that Narcan training is free to staff, whomever wants it. Each campus has multiple doses on hand. Narcan training teaches how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose and administer the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone (Source: Wikipedia: Narcan).
In Board Member Reports, Student member Matthew Mellijor stated he wondered how much money teachers are contributing so students can perform, and whether the sub $50,000 salary is worth it? Student member Van Merrill expressed support for a new high school in Folsom-Ranch, and Rio Del Oro deserving a new school, stating he has witnessed Rancho Cordova denigrated by Folsom High students as poor and “ghetto.”
Board member Clark recounted he travels and recruits “teachers of color.” But he said he has been bothered with the sense that “We need to take care of teachers (we have) here at home.” Board member Laret appealed for keeping language positive in talk about the district. Board member Hooey thanked everyone for the College Fair hosted last week.
President Reid said he appreciates how parents feel about their children’s school needs. “We are not two cities, we are one district,” Reid said. He added the drug safety presentations of the past week were “wonderful,” and wondered “Could we have school-wide presentations where we have the exact same speakers from Folsom schools to Cordova schools?”
The meeting adjourned at 9:23 pm.