Residents gathered at the Davis Joint Unified School District meeting to demand better pay and benefits for teachers
By JILLIAN MARCH — email@example.com
On Nov. 3, residents gathered in front of the entrance to Davis City hall during the Davis Joint Unified School District Board (DJUSD) Monthly Meeting in a show of support for the Davis Teachers Association (DTA) amid ongoing contract negotiations with the local school district.
“Davis students deserve the best!” cheered the crowd as DJUSD Superintendent Matt Best arrived at the most recent School Board Meeting. Parents, teachers, school site staff and students were in attendance to protest what they considered the school district’s unwillingness to negotiate in good faith with their teachers’ association.
According to California School Employees Association (CSEA) President Sande Royval, over the course of the past few months, DJUSD has seen a large number of teachers and other essential faculty members leave the district for neighboring ones. She attributes this to DJUSD’s salaries and benefits, which she explained have not kept up with the city’s high cost of living.
“We are an important and essential part of the school community,” Royval said. “Unfortunately, we’re not feeling that way. Our families and our lives are being threatened by historic inflation and it seems like [DJUSD leaders] don’t care.”
During his initial presentation, Victor Lagunes, the DTA president and educator at Da Vinci Junior High, said that due to the district’s teacher shortage, remaining teachers have a shortened prep time period and increased difficulty obtaining substitute teachers. Negotiations have focused heavily on increasing the pay of school-site staff members, but so far, offers from the district have been disappointing.
Attendees in support of DTA negotiations were especially concerned by the district’s recent proposed solution of one-time payments and bonuses for teachers instead of salary increases, which the DTA argues will begin to remedy the district’s main problem, teacher retention.
Before the floor was opened for public comments, Lagunes talked about the impact that teachers have on students.
“Our students deserve the best,” Lagunes said. “DJUSD must invest in students by investing in and attracting great educators.”
Lagunes said that DJUSD is unable to find and retain quality teachers and that this is a main concern during the negotiation process.
“I think about all the teachers that have taken on an extra FTE (full-time equivalent) than what they had planned on this year because we have not hired sufficiently to cover the staffing needs and how that has impacted their ability to prep effectively for their classes, groups and interventions.”
In some cases, students have been left without a permanent teacher for the 2022-2023 school year. Christopher Fluetsch, a teacher and librarian at Willett Elementary, elaborated on this concern during public comment.
“You have four elementary school classrooms here full of students who have been denied a full-year, long-term teacher for the entire year,” Fluetsch said.
Katelyn Moseanko, a special education teacher at North Davis Elementary, said during public comment that particular groups of students will face harsher educational deficits if DJUSD does not come to an agreement with DTA.
“Who will replace us?” Moseanko said. “Davis students deserve the best, and I am one of the best. We can’t afford to live here and when we compare salary and benefits not only now, but in 30-some years when we retire, we can’t make the commitment to stay. And so what if we leave? Who will replace us?”
DTA negotiations are still developing. The next DJUSD Board Meeting will take place this upcoming Thursday, Nov 17 from 6-11 p.m. at Davis City Hall.
Written by: Jillian March — firstname.lastname@example.org