Monday, February 22, 2016

Board Meeting Speakers

My name is Jeff Pawley and I am a teacher at Lakeview Junior High.  I have taught in the Orcutt Union District for the past 27 years and this is the first time that I have spoken at a school board meeting.  Obviously, something has fired-me-up, otherwise I wouldn't be here speaking to you now.  I met with my tax-preparer yesterday and we figured out my taxes for 2015.

On October 16, 2015, the district notified the teachers that they were switching our current payroll system to a new payroll system, and that instead of receiving our usual paycheck at the beginning of January 2016, we would now be receiving our paycheck at the end of December, 2015. For the past 27 years in this district, I received a paycheck at the beginning AND the end of January, and then at the end of the rest of the months of the year (excluding December). That means I received 12 checks a year. This year they moved that paycheck to the end of December, which means that I received 13 checks for the calendar year. By moving that paycheck one week earlier (actually three days), it cost me over $3,000 in additional taxes!  Even though I didn't make one-cent more than I usually do, on paper it appeared that my wife and I made an additional $17,600.

Since that $17,600 was additional income above our normal income, it put us in a higher tax bracket.  So $9,000 of that was taxed at 25% equaling $2,200 in Federal taxes and another $800 in state taxes.  This is money that we will never get back.  When I signed my contract, I had an option to receive 10 or 12 checks, NOT 13 checks!  In essence, you have unilaterally imposed a 3.4% pay cut on my wife and myself. I want to know why this change had to be made? Was this a result of a change in county or state law? If so, please cite the law for me so I can better understand this issue. If you can't cite a specific law on why this needed to happen, then I will look forward to receiving a $3,000 reimbursement check for the money you cost me.  Thank you, Jeff Pawley. Lakeview Junior High school.

My name is Steve Harris and I have been a teacher in the Orcutt Union School District for 20 years, as well as a parent in the district for the last 11. As both a parent and teacher I am concerned about the future of our schools. Faced before our school district and you, the board, is the on-going negotiations with the Orcutt Educators Association. I feel that it is important that fair bargaining agreements about teaching conditions and compensation be reached. This is for the benefit of all involved.     

The problem faced by the teachers of this district is one of fairness and respect. As it has been made clear lately in the local media, the Orcutt teachers are the lowest paid in the Santa Maria valley. A typical teacher with 10 years of experience earns nearly $17,000 less per year in the Orcutt School District than in Santa Maria. That’s $17,000 in just one year! This comes out to a huge “chunk of change” over the next 20 years of a teacher’s career! While having this much extra income is important to anyone, it is especially important to people new to the teaching profession. And it is these new teachers that our district must be most concerned about.     

You see, the Orcutt Union School District, like California as a whole, is on the brink of a teacher shortage crisis.  According to many studies, California will need 100,000 teachers over the next decade. The demand for new teachers will be at its highest, when the number of newly qualified educators coming out of college will be at its lowest. Now, let’s look at how this plays out for the Orcutt schools and its students.     

The Orcutt School District is an aging district. Like the state, nearly 1/3 of our teachers will be retiring in the next decade. That means the district will have to hire about 100 new teachers just to replace retirees. Now, with a teacher shortage looming in the near future, how do you propose to do that? Are you going to recruit new teachers right out of school? That would be nearly impossible considering that with few new educators available to hire, they could easily make nearly $9,000 more in the first year just by signing on elsewhere! We all know how expensive it is to live on the Central Coast. Add to that the additional financial burden of student loans, and a new teacher would be crazy to hire on to the Orcutt School District when they could make substantially more just a few miles away. It’s a “no-brainer”. Even though our district will desperately need them, new teachers will not want to work for the Orcutt Schools!      

So, that leaves us with who is left to hire to replace our retirees? Poorly qualified individuals with emergency teaching credentials? I don’t know about you, but these aren’t the kinds of educators I want teaching my children. So the Orcutt Union School District is going to find itself left behind because they cannot compete with other districts on teacher salaries.I ask you then, when your representatives go back to the negotiations table next month, have them keep these facts in mind. Propose a more fair and respectful compensation that can not only help current teachers, but can help pave the way for another generation of excellent teachers in Orcutt. Let’s truly make the OUSD a place where Kids can come First, and stay there!Thank you.