Thursday Sep 11 2008
Another ViewBy Mary Dick President Rocklin Teachers Professional Association, Granite Oaks Middle School music teacher
Rocklin district losing its competitive edge
As Rocklin grows and veteran teachers are nearing retirement, there is a real need to attract and retain high quality educators in our schools. Although Rocklin has a history of making quality staff a top priority, it has abandoned this tradition in recent years causing us to lose our competitive edge in the local job market. That is why we have been struggling with district administrators to recapture our tradition, giving every Rocklin student the opportunity to have the best, most qualified and dedicated teachers possible. Unfortunately, the district now seems less interested in working hard to attract and keep great teachers and more interested in publicly fighting against us. Over the past few weeks, the district has spent time, money and energy trying to prove its point by robo-calling every parent, by adding pages to its Web site and by making inaccurate statements in the media. It doesn’t have to be this way. Compared to most districts in the area, financially Rocklin is extremely healthy. Its student population is growing well beyond expectations; its budget reserve is two to three times the state recommended level; and, over the past five years, it received a 20 percent increase in funding from the state. During the same time, the district passed on only a little more than half of this state-funded cost of living adjustment (COLA) to teachers. By contrast, the district superintendent gave himself a 28 percent raise. To set the record straight, contrary to what the superintendent claims, the district is not offering teachers a 6.8 percent salary increase for this year and last; it has not increased our pay by anywhere near $1 million over that time and our compensation is not above average for similar districts in the area. If any of this were true, we would have settled this dispute a year ago. In reaching its inflated claims, the district is counting spending on items that no other district in the state counts. For example, in stating it “has already increased teacher compensation by more than $1 million for the 2007-08/2008-09 school years,” the district must be counting its hiring of additional staff to serve our growing student population to get anywhere near that figure. No other district counts the salaries it pays to hire more teachers as compensation for its existing staff. Similarly, the district wants to count teacher experience step and advanced education credit reimbursement as our raise. To put the district’s position in perspective, we must compare it to what other area districts have already given. While Rocklin is offering 0 percent for last year, area districts have already provided their teachers these cost of living adjustments for last yea including : Roseville Joint Union High School District at 4.5 percent; Roseville City School District at 2.8 percent; Western Placer at 7 percent; San Juan at 4.25 percent and Dry Creek at 3.5 percent. We do not want this conflict to continue. We do not see winners and losers in this dispute. All of us – parents, teachers, students, and the community – will lose if Rocklin does not maintain its ability to compete for great educators. We should all be working together to make Rocklin a place where excellent teachers want to come and stay for a career. Unfortunately, it appears it will take a lot of public input to convince district administrators to stop fighting and to start talking. That is why we hope you will contact Rocklin’s School Board members, who are elected to represent your concerns, and urge them to work hard at settling – not prolonging – this dispute. Thank you for your efforts and support on behalf of Rocklin’s great students and teachers!