Teachers address class size and pay compensation
Teacher Sandy Butts, center, and fellow teachers addressed concerns at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
Teacher Sandy Butts, center, and fellow teachers addressed concerns at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

The first Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) Board Meeting of the New Year was completed in 30 minutes. The short session consisted of a discussing an Education Services and Public Comments addressing the Board.

During Public Comments Sandy Butts, who teaches 5th grade at Mountain Vista, along with ten other teachers from around the District, address the Board on class size and teachers’ compensation. Many of those teachers wore black t-shirts with a quote from Abraham Lincoln stating, "Education, the most important subject which we as a people engage." Butts wanted to reminded the Board that the average FUSD class size today is 28-29 students (California average is 24 students which is much larger than classrooms throughout the country) and also that it has been almost eight years since the teachers in FUSD have received a pay raise. She gave examples of newspaper articles discussing the teacher pay raises throughout the state and that it is attributed to the passing of Prop. 30.

Butts presented the Board with a chart dated November 10, 2013 from a Ventura County Star article showing average teachers pay scales throughout the county with Hueneme Elementary being the highest at $79,535 followed by Oxnard Union High at $72,646. The lowest paying district was Fillmore Unified at $61,340 preceded by Rio District at $62,284. The chart also listed Ventura County's annual income average for teachers: Elementary $68,653, Middle School $63,325 and High School $66,337. According to the California Department of Education website California average teaching salary is $68,531 and ranks 5th compared to the other 49 states. Just ahead of California is the District of Columbia at an average teaching salary of $68,720 and the highest paid teachers are in New York at $73,398. The average teaching salary throughout the country is $55,418.

California spent $57,923,591,137 on education during the 2011-2012 school year with $17,908,913,160 (30%) going to teachers salary. In 2013, $50,584,391,000 went to k-12 and higher education, which is over 53% of the state's general fund.

The article presented gave examples of other jobs in the county with various incomes levels such as Social Workers at $59,913 and registered nurses with an average income of $78,644. But those and other job average incomes presented in the chart are not a fair comparison. Although FUSD teachers do often work at home correcting papers and are required to attend other meetings and functions, they along with most teachers in California work only 185 of a 365 day year, which is a little more than half of the days in each year, with all holidays, weekends, winter break and summer off, something that many other jobs do not offer.

The Board has reinstated the teachers five furloughed day pay cut they received in the past and has rehired one laid-off custodian with plans in the future to rehire a laid-off groundkeeper along with two laid-off maintenance workers.

Bob Sube, Facilities Director for FUSD, announced he will be leaving the District. He thanked the Board for all they have done to make his job easier and stated, "I will miss this place" adding later that in his heart he will never leave this Fillmore. Assistant Superintendent Michael Johnson said, "You'll really be missed." Todd Schieferle, Director of Human Resources responded, "This is a place you've really left your mark." Board Member John Garnica stated, "You've left an indelible foot print here."

Everyone thanked Sube for is work ethic, dedication and attention to detail. Board Member Lucy Rangel stated, "You've saved us lots of money and made sure everything was done right." Board Member Tony Prado added that prior to Sube coming to work with FUSD, it was spending large sums of money on professional consultants; and that Sube replaced the need for them, saving the District over $300,000 each year. When all were finished speaking the room broke out in applauds.

The discussion on Education Services pertained to two data collecting sessions held recently with FUSD administrative officials and teachers. During the sessions teachers gave feedback on where the felt the need for professional development would be most useful. The results varied depending on grade level and school, with Writing Task Force Updates, English Language Strategies, Common Core State Standards Department Shifts and SBAC Assessments receiving the highest interest.