A report on the SPS Board meeting and pay freezes

Today, Summit Public Schools held its board meeting and passed the 2020-21 school year budget.  At the meeting, which was attended by over 45 teachers, 12 teachers spoke eloquently about the negative impact of the proposed unilateral pay freeze.  They voiced concerns about paying essential bills; repaying students loans which they took out with the expectation of moving up the pay scale as described in their compensation letter; and about contributing to the wellbeing of their families.  Others shared that they see that this freeze is structurally classist and racist because teachers and hourly employees (who teachers also spoke up for during the meeting) are the lowest paid employees in the organization and are disproportionately folks of color.

The Summit Public Schools board chose to pass their budget which kept an assumed 10% cut in funding from the State (despite the most recent information from Sacramento that there will be no cuts to education) and was premised on teachers and hourly employees being frozen at their 2019-20 compensation. A recording of the meeting will be posted here

It is reasonable to feel alarm that a budget built on an assumption of freezing teacher salaries has been approved by the Summit Public Schools board.  It is crucial to understand that budgets are a “best guess” of anticipated funding and spending and that it would be illegal for Summit to implement the pay freeze which this budget anticipates.  

The passing of this budget does not mean that teacher salaries will be less than described in teacher compensation letters for 2020-21.  Without a formal agreement between Unite Summit and Summit Public Schools, the status quo pay scale for the 2020-21 school year is intact with legal protections.  If Summit Public Schools were to send July paychecks reflecting the 2019-20 pay scale, Unite Summit would file an Unfair Labor Practice.  Our union is organizing to prevent this from happening. 

As a union, we are taking the following steps to protect our pay.  

  1. Tomorrow at 9 AM, our bargaining team will be in bargaining again over compensation for teachers for the 2020-21 school year.  We will stand by our proposal to compensate teachers with the raises they were promised for the 2020-21 school year; and negotiate any changes if necessary in October. This remains an extremely reasonable stance: it prevents immediate financial hardship for our teachers while at the same time allowing for negotiations over any potential cuts to resume in October, when Summit has explicitly said they will have more concrete information about State and federal funding. Importantly, by moving discussion of potential cuts back to October (instead of coming to a hasty agreement in the middle of the summer), we will actually have the time we need to talk with our members and develop a democratically supported proposal. (For more details on our proposal, see our email from yesterday titled “Join us at tomorrow’s SPS Board Meeting!”)
  2. We ask that all teachers reach out to Diane Tavenner at dtavenner@summitps.org to share your perspective on the unilateral freeze to employee compensation.  You are welcome to use the talking points we provided in our email sent Tuesday, titled “Why pay freezes are unnecessary.”  Consider sharing how a salary freeze would impact you, our peers, students, hourly employees, and school communities.  We believe that the best decisions are reached democratically.

Tomorrow, look for a newsletter update from the bargaining team on our negotiations.  Our union will continue to organize if this is necessary.  We are committed to including all of our members in compensation decisions.  This is why we formed a union.  Please contact your bargaining team representative if you have questions or comments.