PVUSD teachers need a raise

To the Editor,

Given the recent revelation that the University of California, under President Janet Napolitano, was hiding $175 million in a secret reserve account, the importance of having a democratically elected school board — that we are so fortunate to have in the Pájaro Valley — is emphasized.

I have found it strange that at least for over the last seven years, Pájaro Valley Unified School District predicts a deficit at one time of the year only to turn out to run a surplus when the district’s actual fund balances come out. The surplus that was $28.6 million in 2009-2010, has ballooned into a $59.2 million surplus in 2015-2016!

PVUSD has the money to fairly compensate its teachers and give them a fair and decent raise. Governor Brown’s revised budget for 2017-2018 also continues to increase funding for K-12 education further securing money for raises for PVUSD teachers. Since without teachers, there would be no schools, some of that money should be theirs.

One of the roles of a school board trustee, according to the California School Board Association’s website, is “ensuring accountability.” First, I suggest that they actively question the district’s honesty about deficits in the face of increasing surpluses over the last seven years.

Other roles for school board members are “setting direction” and “providing support.” Ensuring an adequately compensated staff would also help with staff stability. Every year PVUSD has to scramble to fill positions leaving students without credentialed and committed teachers for months at a time. This creates a situation that is chaotic for the entire school and is clearly not conducive to learning as any teacher or administrator can tell you.

In my 29 years of teaching in Pájaro Valley, mostly in the middle school, I called it “going feral” when a class had multiple substitutes and no steady teacher. Students with no regular teacher or structure don’t learn much.

Especially in an area with such high costs of living as we have here, rather than have money sitting in a reserve account, the school district should adequately compensate its employees. They need a raise!

Sarah Ringler

Santa Cruz

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