Homepage 4, 2021

“Ask Me About My Pay Cut”

By Kendyl Brower

Pins, posters, and picketing— before or after school hours, you’ll find dozens of teachers decked out in red in the front of the Westmont gates. Drive around the area, and you’ll notice nearly every high school in CUHSD following this same movement: teachers drawing attention to their pay dispute with the district. The increasingly public impasse in negotiations between the Campbell High School Teachers Association (CHSTA) and the district has prompted students and parents to do as the various posters say, ask about their teacher’s pay cuts.  

The Original Contract

In 2019, CUHSD and CHSTA entered a 3-year contract laying out the following plan:

The parcel tax (a tax on real estate that helps fund public education) failed to pass twice, bringing both parties back to negotiations. The district strictly followed the contract, offering a permanent $4,000 increase, but teachers suggested a $5,000 increase with a 7% salary increase. 

These initial proposals introduced back in May went nowhere; unable to come to an agreement, the lengthy mediation process spilled into the 2021-2022 school year. Consequently, teachers were left with their 2019 base pay— a deduction of $5,000 from their previous salaries.

What’s in a Name? 

Here is where some discrepancies begin: the district refuses to refer to the salary reversion as a pay cut, but teachers argue otherwise. In a letter to families, Superintendent Robert Bravo states he is concerned with students repeating the “Teachers Association’s erroneous claim that the district has reduced teacher pay by $5,000.”

Diving into the semantics, the district ensures that the reduction is not technically a pay cut because the $5,000 was a one-time off-schedule “bonus.” As well, the district notes that teachers will get paid the promised amount in the contract eventually. But, with the stark rise in the cost of living, especially in the Bay Area, teachers argue that they need the money now more than ever. “Pay cut” or not, teachers are left vulnerable with a lesser wage in trying times.

Beyond the Bills

“Teachers are having to make decisions between child care and food,” reflects social science teacher Christopher Mock. The sudden change has rippled throughout the community as teachers and their families face the repercussions in their day-to-day lives. Though $500/mo may seem minimal to district leaders making upward of $289,576.20, those dollars can make the difference between moving back in with your parents and living on your own for some teachers.    

Negotiations as of Today

The union now asks for a permanent $5,000 bonus and a 4% cost-of-living pay increase, around $8,700 total. CUHSD proposes a permanent $5,000 bonus with a $500 one-time payment and a $2,000 one-time retention stipend, $7,500 total. But for many teachers, the one-time proposals are not enough: the district proposed bonuses go off-schedule, meaning they do not go toward teacher’s retirement. Moreover, the bonuses are susceptible to reversal, leading to disputes like the current situation. 

Students and teachers question the district’s $48 million in reserves, particularly the $33 million which could theoretically be used for salaries. California requires that schools maintain a 3% reserve; in 2021, CUHSD had a 25.16% reserve. However, Bravo claims that the district cannot afford the teachers’ requests because it would drain out the reserves, which “is unusually high because of one-time COVID relief funds from the state and federal governments and the reduced costs of closed campuses last year” according to the CUHSD website.

Deja Vu

Many teachers argue that their main concern with the district is their lack of respect and support for their employees. This is not a new battle— one Westmont parent, Elizabeth Ward, notes that the same issues from 3 years ago prevail, “we have a significant number of disenchanted teachers; the bargaining process has been extended way beyond the start of the school year, and the wider school community is being adversely affected.” Evidently, the tensions between CHSTA and CUHSD precede the current situation and will most likely continue if there is no significant change within the district. Teachers continuously feel cheated, disrespected, and ignored, with 380 voting no confidence in Bravo during a November 4 board meeting. 

CUHSD asserts that its intentions are of goodwill. President of the CUHSD Board of Trustees, Kalen Gallagher states: 

“Our teachers are absolute heroes for all they do for our students every day, and especially all they’ve done over the last couple years. The Board’s goal continues to be to give the largest raise we can responsibly afford, without creating the need to cut student programs, support services, or raising class sizes.”

The Community Speaks Out

On October 21, over 200 Westmont students marched out of their second period classes, signaling their solidarity with teachers. What began as an Instagram infographic from students at Prospect High School quickly transformed into a student-led, district-wide walkout. Various chants and posters spread a powerful message that the students of CUHSD firmly support their educators, coaches, influences, and role models.

Student Walkout Testimonials: 

What Now?

On November 4, 88% of teachers voted no confidence in Bravo— the board responded by extending his contract 1 year from 2023 to 2024 with no discussion. The only votes against this were from student representatives. 

In a November 8 community newsletter, Bravo writes, “the purpose of a no confidence vote, according to a document circulated amongst CHSTA membership… is to “advance [CHSTA’s] interest in bargaining.”’ 

English teacher Bryce Hadley refutes this: “In spite of Dr. Bravo’s recent email interpretation, the Vote of NO Confidence is not about money, but more a referendum on overall leadership.”

To follow the negotiation process, make sure to keep up with CUHSD’s Labor Management and Negotiations updates. Students can participate in the ongoing process in various ways: 

National Merit Scholarship:

From Left to Right: Arijit Ghosal, Aarushi Wadhwa, Ashwin Rajan, Ryan Chaudoin, and Walten Chan

Article Highlights:

By Kendyl Brower

By Aidan Morales

By Andy Evans

This Day in History: November 10 

By Eric Vallen 

1202: Pope Innocent III calls off his own crusade, sentencing his crusaders to excommunication, but they ignore him, laying siege to the Croatian city of Zara

1674: The treaty of Westminster is signed between England and the Netherlands, ceding to England the lands of New Netherland, home to the city New Amsterdam. Under its new name, the city would be called New York. 

1775: The second continental congress formally creates an army branch known as the Continental Marines, the grandfather to today’s Marine Corps. 

1793: Forced worship of god is repealed from law in France

1836: Louis Napoleon, otherwise known as Napoleon III is formally banished to the United States of America

1885: German engineer Gottlieb Daimler unveils the world’s first motorcycle prototype

1905: Sailors join the first Russian Revolution at Kronstadt naval base

1917: Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin restricts freedom of the press during the October Revolution

1918: An obscure radio station in Nova Scotia receives an encoded message from Europe, declaring that the following day all fighting on the land, sea, and air would cease, ending World War I. The same day, Wilhelm II of Germany flees to the Netherlands, as his army leaves him and revolutions spark in major German cities. 

1940: Walt Disney begins his tenure as an FBI informant, attempting to reveal undercover agents within the Hollywood community. 

1951: The first long distance phone call is made, without the assistance of a telephone operator. 

1954: Iconic American military image, “Raising the flag at Iwo Jima” is unveiled at Arlington Cemetery

1966: Lunar Orbiter II comes within 196 kilometers of the surface of the moon

1969: Sesame street world premiere on PBS

1970: For the first time in five years, there are no reports of casualties from the Vietnam War.

1982: Soviet Union supreme leader Leonid Brehznev dies, leading into a stream of corrupt and unworthy leaders, perhaps attributing to the split of the country just a decade later

1989: Germans begin demolishing the Berlin wall, a longtime symbol of totalitarianism and oppression.

2009: Ships of the North and South Korean navies skirmish in the yellow sea, causing a nuclear scare 

2020: Armenian protests begin against the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement

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