On June 22, Summit announced they are freezing teacher pay, without any notice and without bargaining with our union. The announcement was based on the Governor’s May budget revise, which included a 10% cut in school funding. However, this week, the Governor signed a budget in which there are NO funding cuts to schools, though there are deferrals (meaning schools will get the same funding but might be paid late by the state).
On June 24, Diane Tavenner informed our bargaining team that unless we agreed to cuts to our expected pay, she would lay off 10-14 Expeditions teachers.
Summit Can Afford to Pay Teachers What They Were Promised and Not Layoff Teachers
Summit’s CEO Diane Tavenner has stated that about $970,000 must be cut from the budget, specifically from teachers either through layoffs or pay freezes. This is financially unnecessary for a number of reasons:
- Last month, SPS received almost $6.8 million dollars from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (a low-interest loan intended for small businesses harmed by the COVID crisis that has the potential to become a grant).
- There are no cuts to state funding as part of the budget deal. The budget deal also prohibits teacher layoffs during the 2020-21 school year. While it is currently unclear if charters are exempt from this prohibition, the fact that SPS and school districts are receiving the same amount of money, yet Summit is threatening to lay-off teachers while school districts are prohibited from doing so is extremely troubling.
- SPS has estimated reserves of just under $50 million dollars. As part of their budget, Summit is committing $14 million from its reserves to continue operating, with 4.1 million going to CA schools. Making good on the 2020-21 salary raises would cost less than three percent of the remaining SPS reserves.
- SPS is paying its top employees extraordinarily high salaries:
- Summit hired an “Entrepreneur in Residence” in April for a salary of $400,000 a year.
- Summit’s CEO is the highest paid K-12 public school leader in the state at $450,449 a year
- Meanwhile, administrators in higher education, along with other local charter school leaders, are voluntarily taking large pay cuts in order to protect the pay of their lowest paid employees.
- SPS has plenty of cash on hand. Even if no more help comes to California from the federal government, our schools will receive the money that was promised, but payments from the state might be deferred in the spring of 2021. While deferrals are not ideal, because they can create cash flow issues for schools, according to information presented at the June SPS Board meeting, Summit has enough cash on hand for 182 days of operations for its California schools.
We have repeatedly made clear that our union is willing to return to the negotiating table if the financial crisis worsens and school funding is cut outright. However, there is no need at this moment to make cuts, especially since making cuts to expected pay now or laying off teachers before the start of the school year would have such a devastating impact on Summit employees.
Our Educators Cannot Afford an Unexpected, Immediate Pay Freeze
The median income for Summit teachers is about $65,000. According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, the “low income” thresholds for the Bay Area are:
- Alameda County and Contra Costa County: $73,100
- Santa Clara County: $78,550
- San Francisco and San Mateo County: $97,600
Summit employees, especially teachers and hourly workers at the lower ends of our spectrum, will need to make extreme changes to adjust to a change in the expected income. They may need to move in with parents, find roommates, line up second jobs, and so forth. These teachers will be disproportionately affected by changes to their expected income. We believe that employees at the highest end of the pay scale are best able to withstand a pay cut.