The San Diego Education Association, the union that represents local teachers, has voted to start “limited negotiations” with the San Diego Unified School District over possible concessions on salaries in order to save teachers from layoffs.

With the district facing an estimated $120 million budget shortfall next year, the school board has been calling on the union to meet and discuss possible concessions in order to avoid crippling layoffs. Last week, one in every five teachers in the district received final layoff notices.

An SDEA press release issued today, quoted teachers union president Bill Freeman:

“With a clearer picture of San Diego Unified School District’s budget, the elected San Diego Education Association board voted last night to authorize limited negotiations with the District in an effort to stop layoffs, defend classrooms and protect our profession.”

“The elected leaders of SDEA believe this is the right way to proceed based on a recent analysis of the District’s budget conducted by a team of SDEA members and California Teachers Association budget analysts. Unlike past years, the economic challenges facing the District and the state have not improved.”

The move marks a significant change in tone for the union.

For months, the SDEA has been saying that the district’s budget problems shouldn’t be fixed on the back of teachers. The union has argued that the district is not being honest about its budget deficit, and has said it would not negotiate until the state finalizes its budget in the summer.

But with the layoff notices going out, the pressure has steadily ramped up on the union. Last month, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, the region’s most powerful labor organization, called on the union to sit down with the district. That call was echoed in an editorial this week by San Diego City Beat, the left-leaning weekly magazine.

The union signaled last week that it was both surveying members on the issue and asking financial experts from the union’s state affiliate to pore through the district’s budget to see if the dire deficit predictions are legitimate.

In a letter to SDEA members, Freeman was clear that the scope of the negotiations will be limited. He wrote:

The fact is that we can bargain over limited issues without jeopardizing important contractual provisions such as our healthcare. That is because we will only enter into discussions with the District after they agree to clear ground rules that limit the scope of our discussions, protect provisions such as family health care and ensure that if we do not reach an acceptable agreement everything will revert back to the current status.

The letter was signed by the members of the SDEA board.

Union vice president Camille Zombro, who has been leading the charge against concessions via a blog called The Breakfast Club, did not sign the letter.

If I hear anything coming out of these negotiations, I’ll post an update.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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    Written by Will Carless

    Will Carless is the former head of investigations at Voice of San Diego. He currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he is a freelance foreign correspondent and occasional contributor to VOSD. You can reach him at will.carless.work@gmail.com.

    64 comments
    Andy Zafuto
    Andy Zafuto subscriber

    There's an alternative. Anybody listening?

    andyboy
    andyboy

    There's an alternative. Anybody listening?

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    The district will be crippled and more than likely be taken over

    mgland
    mgland

    The district will be crippled and more than likely be taken over

    Tim Jenkins
    Tim Jenkins subscriber

    NO ONE IS ADDRESSING THE REAL PROBLEM, THE PROCESS OF FUNDING OUR SCHOOLS. UNTIL THE PROCESS IS FIXED WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE THIS PROBLEM. SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE FORCED TO SET BUDGETS WITHOUT A CLEAR IDEA OF HOW MUCH MONEY THEY WILL HAVE FOR THE NEXT YEAR. THIS PROBLEM HAS TO BE FIXED.

    red
    red

    NO ONE IS ADDRESSING THE REAL PROBLEM, THE PROCESS OF FUNDING OUR SCHOOLS. UNTIL THE PROCESS IS FIXED WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE THIS PROBLEM. SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE FORCED TO SET BUDGETS WITHOUT A CLEAR IDEA OF HOW MUCH MONEY THEY WILL HAVE FOR THE NEXT YEAR. THIS PROBLEM HAS TO BE FIXED.

    Tim Jenkins
    Tim Jenkins subscriber

    Will, If the school district and the Association agree to cut the school year by two weeks all teachers will take a cut in pay. Why don't you understand this? If the Association agrees to not take a raise that has been agreed on all teachers take a cut in pay.

    red
    red

    Will, If the school district and the Association agree to cut the school year by two weeks all teachers will take a cut in pay. Why don't you understand this? If the Association agrees to not take a raise that has been agreed on all teachers take a cut in pay.

    Richard Bagnell
    Richard Bagnell subscriber

    mlaiuppa; I agree with you (might be the first time?). The schools should be funded first and fully. The pet project funding, bullet train, state boards and commission, etc. should be funded only after full funding of our schools.

    RB
    RB

    mlaiuppa; I agree with you (might be the first time?). The schools should be funded first and fully. The pet project funding, bullet train, state boards and commission, etc. should be funded only after full funding of our schools.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa subscriber

    That is the first abuse of public schools that needs to be stopped. It can all be laid at Sacramento's door.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa

    That is the first abuse of public schools that needs to be stopped. It can all be laid at Sacramento's door.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    Before you all go whacky - I say it again, cutting compensation is not what I want personally, only what I believe is necessary at this time to balance the budget and do whatever we can to protect the ever decreasing opportunities for our children's education.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad

    Before you all go whacky - I say it again, cutting compensation is not what I want personally, only what I believe is necessary at this time to balance the budget and do whatever we can to protect the ever decreasing opportunities for our children's education.

    john kaleto
    john kaleto subscriber

    I hear people blaming the district. I hear people blaming the unions (it's not just the teachers union involved, folks). I hear lots of uninformed opinions. What I don't hear is enough people blaming those who actually cause the problem year after year: The Sacramento politicians who continue to consciously underfund education below Prop 98 levels in favor of their own pet projects. And yet Californians keep sending the same people back there year after year to go through this budget charade again and a again ad nauseum.

    kaleto
    kaleto

    I hear people blaming the district. I hear people blaming the unions (it's not just the teachers union involved, folks). I hear lots of uninformed opinions. What I don't hear is enough people blaming those who actually cause the problem year after year: The Sacramento politicians who continue to consciously underfund education below Prop 98 levels in favor of their own pet projects. And yet Californians keep sending the same people back there year after year to go through this budget charade again and a again ad nauseum.

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    Anyone thinking about a career in public school teaching should reconsider.

    fryefan
    fryefan

    Anyone thinking about a career in public school teaching should reconsider.

    Mark Grindberg
    Mark Grindberg subscriber

    I think SDEA should reopen the negotiations in order to save jobs and avoid a public relations nightmare that would damage SDEA for years to come. @Derek, if administrators have sole discretion in decisions regarding which teachers to keep then public teachers may as well not have any union representation. The current system may need to be reformed to speed up the dismissal process for ineffective teachers, but public school teachers need due process protection. The alternative is to rely on decisions capriciously reached. The decision making process has to be objective.

    BGR
    BGR

    I think SDEA should reopen the negotiations in order to save jobs and avoid a public relations nightmare that would damage SDEA for years to come. @Derek, if administrators have sole discretion in decisions regarding which teachers to keep then public teachers may as well not have any union representation. The current system may need to be reformed to speed up the dismissal process for ineffective teachers, but public school teachers need due process protection. The alternative is to rely on decisions capriciously reached. The decision making process has to be objective.

    John Middleton
    John Middleton subscriber

    I've been with the district for a while now. Based on what I hear from colleagues, most of them are willing to negotiate regarding a pay freeze and keeping furloughs. SDEA was waiting for the closest thing they could get to hard numbers before considering negotiation. My completely unscientific (and sure to go wrong) prediction: If the contract is not renegotiated, thousands will declare for retirement August 1st. If the contract is renegotiated, many teachers may still leave for other districts. Either way, SDUSD will look completely different next year.

    John Middleton
    John Middleton

    I've been with the district for a while now. Based on what I hear from colleagues, most of them are willing to negotiate regarding a pay freeze and keeping furloughs. SDEA was waiting for the closest thing they could get to hard numbers before considering negotiation. My completely unscientific (and sure to go wrong) prediction: If the contract is not renegotiated, thousands will declare for retirement August 1st. If the contract is renegotiated, many teachers may still leave for other districts. Either way, SDUSD will look completely different next year.

    John Lacher
    John Lacher subscriber

    We have elections in November. I question whether we have the right candidates. The group we had to select from left a lot to be desired. We have yet to see the monster of depressive economy hit us. When it does, nothing will matter.

    jela
    jela

    We have elections in November. I question whether we have the right candidates. The group we had to select from left a lot to be desired. We have yet to see the monster of depressive economy hit us. When it does, nothing will matter.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    All this is just futile thrashing about. The district will be under direct Sacramento control within two years. It's pretty much inevitable.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    All this is just futile thrashing about. The district will be under direct Sacramento control within two years. It's pretty much inevitable.

    Veronica Krautheim
    Veronica Krautheim subscriber

    to educate the customers. I don't think anyone wants that to happen. That is what's happening with many charter schools, though. They are having a difficult time attracting and keeping quality teachers because their salaries and benefits are so low.

    Resident
    Resident

    to educate the customers. I don't think anyone wants that to happen. That is what's happening with many charter schools, though. They are having a difficult time attracting and keeping quality teachers because their salaries and benefits are so low.

    Veronica Krautheim
    Veronica Krautheim subscriber

    r $50,000 per year, including teachers, should be assessed an extra $50 per month so everyone shares the burden. If you believe teachers should live on less money, why not everyone else? After all, it wasn't the teachers who created this problem in the first place.

    Resident
    Resident

    r $50,000 per year, including teachers, should be assessed an extra $50 per month so everyone shares the burden. If you believe teachers should live on less money, why not everyone else? After all, it wasn't the teachers who created this problem in the first place.

    andrew laverty
    andrew laverty subscriber

    Remove Freeman, the Board of Education, the Union (SDEA) Board and then other solutions can be found.

    Jack37
    Jack37

    Remove Freeman, the Board of Education, the Union (SDEA) Board and then other solutions can be found.

    richard gibson
    richard gibson subscriber

    Chicago Teachers just took a strike vote. The count is showing 90% support. San Francisco has done the same. They lead the way. Concessions don't save jobs. The bosses will only be back for more. The notion that "we are all in this together and must make common sacrifices" is exploded by today's reality: massive bank bailouts, auto bailouts, and wars for empire--everywhere children of the poor killing other children of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands. Teaches, centripetally positioned in de-industrialized America, have power if they act in concert, fight back. Students, as we have seen, will support them and, in fact, learn far more from job actions than they will bubbling in test scores on moronic high-stakes exams. Freeman needs to be shoved aside, made irrelevant,.

    Rich Gibson
    Rich Gibson

    Chicago Teachers just took a strike vote. The count is showing 90% support. San Francisco has done the same. They lead the way. Concessions don't save jobs. The bosses will only be back for more. The notion that "we are all in this together and must make common sacrifices" is exploded by today's reality: massive bank bailouts, auto bailouts, and wars for empire--everywhere children of the poor killing other children of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands. Teaches, centripetally positioned in de-industrialized America, have power if they act in concert, fight back. Students, as we have seen, will support them and, in fact, learn far more from job actions than they will bubbling in test scores on moronic high-stakes exams. Freeman needs to be shoved aside, made irrelevant,.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa subscriber

    I suggest we go into fall with 1500 fewer teachers. Then see what kind of school system you're willing to pay for.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa

    I suggest we go into fall with 1500 fewer teachers. Then see what kind of school system you're willing to pay for.

    Fotis Tsimboukakis
    Fotis Tsimboukakis subscribermember

    About time common sense prevailed. Aside from the regular pay raises slated,there were some other pay increases in the plans. Fine and dandy if there is money. But there isn't enough. I see here that some teachers define brotherhood based on the personal interests,not the benefit of ALL the teachers. They want their pay raises as well as no layoffs. And the union to stand it's ground. I agree AS LONG AS THEY ARE WILLING TO TAKE THEIR RAISES IN CONFETTI LEFT OVER FROM MARTI GRAS. Or if they are willing to go back to paying the same property taxes they were paying in 06.

    FrankT
    FrankT

    About time common sense prevailed. Aside from the regular pay raises slated,there were some other pay increases in the plans. Fine and dandy if there is money. But there isn't enough. I see here that some teachers define brotherhood based on the personal interests,not the benefit of ALL the teachers. They want their pay raises as well as no layoffs. And the union to stand it's ground. I agree AS LONG AS THEY ARE WILLING TO TAKE THEIR RAISES IN CONFETTI LEFT OVER FROM MARTI GRAS. Or if they are willing to go back to paying the same property taxes they were paying in 06.

    Jim Withers
    Jim Withers subscriber

    Schamp - you keep saying you are an elected leader of SDEA. SDEA is in bad shape because the likes of you and Freeman our out for youselves at the expense of the union at large. So much for leaders...

    Wiz1
    Wiz1

    Schamp - you keep saying you are an elected leader of SDEA. SDEA is in bad shape because the likes of you and Freeman our out for youselves at the expense of the union at large. So much for leaders...

    Stella Lopez
    Stella Lopez subscriber

    I hope SDEA members take back our member driven union and RECALL the current leadership.

    Stella
    Stella

    I hope SDEA members take back our member driven union and RECALL the current leadership.

    Dennis
    Dennis subscriber

    This "non-pink slipped" teacher is more then happy to see this happen. You hard-liners need to lighten up a little.

    Dennis Michael
    Dennis Michael

    This "non-pink slipped" teacher is more then happy to see this happen. You hard-liners need to lighten up a little.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    sdguy, it's NEVER been about the kids or our children's education and educational future no matter what or how the SDEA and teachers try to spin it. It's always about the adults and what's best for them. Just read the posts here from pro labor and tell me where the children are?? Then, go back and read Freeman, Zombro, Craig, and all the pro SDEA teachers posts here on VOSD and tell me; where have all the children gone??

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad

    sdguy, it's NEVER been about the kids or our children's education and educational future no matter what or how the SDEA and teachers try to spin it. It's always about the adults and what's best for them. Just read the posts here from pro labor and tell me where the children are?? Then, go back and read Freeman, Zombro, Craig, and all the pro SDEA teachers posts here on VOSD and tell me; where have all the children gone??

    Evan Schumacher
    Evan Schumacher subscribermember

    So, in light of those two choices, do you still think Freeman is wrong to have the union talk with the district? Would rather chose option 1?

    Evan Schumacher
    Evan Schumacher

    So, in light of those two choices, do you still think Freeman is wrong to have the union talk with the district? Would rather chose option 1?

    Elmer Walker
    Elmer Walker subscriber

    Regardless of what concessions are agreed to, furlough days should not be one of them. Furlough days are a very unsophisticated way to cut costs. If there are excess employees lay them off. If the employees are needed, then cut pay and benefits. That is what business majors learned in college. Take the path that private business take and what is taught in college. Elevate your thoughts accordingly.

    elmerew
    elmerew

    Regardless of what concessions are agreed to, furlough days should not be one of them. Furlough days are a very unsophisticated way to cut costs. If there are excess employees lay them off. If the employees are needed, then cut pay and benefits. That is what business majors learned in college. Take the path that private business take and what is taught in college. Elevate your thoughts accordingly.


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