APT President Michael Da Rosa Speaks To The School Board 10-17-16

17 October 2016

Good evening President Konigar-Macklin, Board Members, Superintendent Martinez, Cabinet Members, APT and CSEA sisters and brothers and all those present this evening.

On behalf of our students, our district and APT, we want to thank the Board forpassing a proclamation in support of Proposition 55. No doubt each of you have noticed improvements in the services that we have been able to provide since the passage of Prop 30. As the funding from Prop 30 is coming to an end, Prop 55 will enable our schools to maintain nearly the same funding level that was provided through Prop 30. Our members appreciate knowing that as they volunteer hours to phone bank at our union hall, after teaching our students all day, this Board passed a proclamation in support of Prop 55, which will support our public schools. Some of our members will spend this entire weekend phone banking and campaigning for the passage of Prop 55 under the direction of the California Teachers Association. I challenge you as board members and advocates for public education to come to the APT office and phone bank for Prop 55 as well.

A couple weeks ago, we sent a joint team made up of site reps and principals from Phase One and Phase Two Collaboration Schools to the Fall California Teacher Union Reform Network or CalTURN conference. Last week, our superintendent, members of Cabinet, myself, APT vice presidents and our executive director worked further on our action plan which focuses on teaching and learning through the lenses of collaboration, goal setting, pedagogy and accountability.

We remain encouraged by the progress that we are making in our efforts to systematize and broaden new ways that our educators can participate in decision-making that impacts teaching and learning.

As we continue negotiations through the Interest-based bargaining or IBB process, we are faced with the current teacher shortage. As the baby boom generation of teachers continue to retire in large numbers, the teacher shortage will continue to increase. While providing our students and parents with the best and the brightest teachers is arguably the number one responsibility that this Board bears, APT is highly concerned about the upcoming teacher shortage and is interested in working toward solutions that will make coming to Pomona Unified more attractive. As teachers complete their credential programs and compare surrounding school districts, there is a striking comparison in which some school districts’ ending salary are well below $100,000., while others end significantly higher. We believe that it is imperative that this Board recognize that we must offer competitive salaries and choose to be as many districts, to provide ending salaries that tip over the $100,000 range.

Several years ago, during the last teacher shortage, APT worked with the District in order to provide a highly competitive salary for starting teachers. Newly hired teachers continue to be at the high end as we look at other surrounding districts. However, over the past few years, the gap has widened significantly for veteran teachers. For our most experienced teachers, we rank nearly at the bottom in comparison to 35 other school districts between Pasadena and Etiwanda, along the 210, 10 and 60 freeway corridor. We need to make a correction to our salary schedule, as a matter of equity for our veteran teachers. In restructuring our salary schedule, we believe that more of our members will retire, thus providing an opportunity in future years to provide respectable raises for all of our members, regardless of where they fall on the salary schedule. While making this correction to the salary schedule provides equity and is the right thing to do, we also firmly believe that teachers will be more interested in coming to Pomona over the coming years as they see that our salary schedule is competitive and respectable at all stages of a teacher’s career.

We recognize that not all of our members will be in agreement with this restructuring. Some will just be interested in how they will be immediately impacted. Historically, there has always been some resistance or opposition from our membership during bargaining, and certain ideas that have been agreed to. This is to be expected. What is unfortunate is that negotiations are not held publically, and therefore, our members do not actually know the details of our efforts through our bargaining sessions. We do our best to communicate in general terms, and sometimes our members make assumptions that are just not accurate.

It is our hope that this Board appreciates just how much our teachers, counselors, nurses, psychologists, education specialists and other practitioners do each year, above and beyond, out of their commitment to our students and this community. Whether it is an elementary school teacher, that continues to serve on numerous committees each year and ends up planning their lessons and correcting assignments hours after their end time or the high school teacher that serves his or her community by doing several additional assignments, these teachers and so many teachers like them, must be respectably compensated for their dedicated service to our students.

I have worked directly with several of our members that are present this evening. I know what they do for our students, year, after year. They want to know that they will be compensated respectfully, as they were when they started teaching in Pomona Unified. Currently, what they DO know is the longer they stay here in Pomona, the further they will fall behind what they could be earning elsewhere.

We feel we are close to an agreement and as we are able to reach a settlement at the bargaining table, we urge this Board to do the right thing and support a respectful salary schedule for teachers at all stages of their career.

Thank you and good evening.