WATSONVILLE — The Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers is concerned with a proposal by the Pajaro Valley Unified School District that they say will cut into their pay.
As part of ongoing negotiations, the suggested pay cuts are in total compensation, with PVUSD wanting to limit the amount of money they contribute to health care premiums. This follows a year where other union districts increased contributions to health care plans by about 5 percent, and where the PVUSD generated more than $16 million in surplus funds, according to PVFT Chief Negotiator Jack Carroll.
“The district is proposing no raises this year, no raises next year and pay cuts every year into the future,” Carroll said. “They don’t have a rationale for it, because frankly the numbers don’t add up.”
PVUSD Assistant Supervisor of Human Resources Ian MacGregor said the concept of a cap on employee benefits is not new, just new for the district.
It is a necessary line in their proposal because he said it will address a deficiency in funding discovered by School Services of California, a resource for educational agencies.
“There would still be a plan that the district would continue paying for, and it’s a really good plan, an excellent plan,” MacGregor said. “But if an employee wanted to buy up, they would pay the difference between what the district pays and what they want for the new plan.”
Employees would still have access to a fully funded plan, with a zero dollar deductible, but there would be tiers they could upgrade into. For a family plan, it would remain $90 a month.
“A single person will take the best plan because they don’t have to pay for it,” MacGregor said. “As of now, when the cost of benefits go up, the district pays the increased cost.”
Citing a reserve seven times what is legally required, Carroll said his group is not sure where the deficiency lies.
“I just don’t see what’s happening,” he said. “I have to wonder how they are managing their finances that they have such surpluses and nothing to spend on teachers. Where is the money going?”
MacGregor said the proposal follows an increase of 1.62 percent in pay.
The PVFT’s proposal, Carroll said, costs a fraction of what is available and includes a fixed dollar amount raise for every step and column on their pay scale.
“This benefits the district in their recruiting efforts, the extra bump at step one makes the district look more attractive,” he said.
This would replace, Carroll said, the district’s suggestion of signing bonuses — something Carroll called a “bait and switch” tactic.
“The rents aren’t going to go down, so there is no reason a salary should go down,” he said. “And not all teachers that start with us in August stay with us through the year.”
Under the district’s current proposal, teachers who leave before the school year is out would take the bonus with them.
But MacGregor said it is just a different way of thinking.
“My thinking is we want to compete and level the field with the other districts,” he said, citing difficulties filling positions in math, science and special education. “I see it as helping us be able to fill spots that are very tough to fill.”
Still, Carroll calls the latest proposal “unreasonable,” while MacGregor complimented PVUSD and the union, saying “they are good people, just the idea that we would have a cap is new.”
“Negotiations are still ongoing, it hasn’t stopped,” he said. “PVFT has a real open door policy with us.”