The San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education approved plans to award its executive cabinet, administrative staff and confidential employees a retroactive 2.56% pay raise, as well as a plan to reduce district expenditures by $8 million, during its regular meeting on Tuesday.
District officials said that the pay raises -- which will retroactively go into effect in July 2019 -- in line with the district's policy of granting the same salary and benefits increases across the board for all district employees.
Since the district already approved the 2.56% salary increase for union teachers and classified personnel, the board chose to follow its longstanding policy and extend the raise to its assistant principals and principals, executive cabinet members and the superintendent.
"This is really based on the fundamental value in our school district of fairness," board member Rachel Hurd said ahead of the board's unanimous vote during the online-only meeting Tuesday night.
"The phrase 'me too' was used in some of the emails I received in a way that was not necessarily so flattering but I would like to frame in another way," she said. "It's that we value every single one of our employees, so the raise that is negotiated for one group is shared and given to every other group."
"I don't believe it would be fair to ask our principals and our assistant principals and our other administrators to not be compensated for this year," Hurd added.
The total cost of the increases (salary and benefits) for the executive cabinet, and management and confidential employees are $41,100 and $461,476, respectively.
For Superintendent Rick Schmitt, who is retiring June 30, that means his base salary for his final year is retroactively raised to $357,832.
For the rest of Schmitt's executive cabinet, their new 2019-20 salaries is $261,593 for deputy superintendent of educational services Toni Taylor (who retired midyear), $262,186 for assistant superintendent of facilities and operations Gary Black (who is retiring June 30), $237,810 for assistant superintendent of human resources Keith Rogenski, $226,486 for chief business officer Greg Medici and $226,486 for assistant superintendent of educational services Christine Huajardo (who succeed Taylor, in a restructured position, midyear).
The district's bargaining team originally reached a tentative labor agreement with its teacher's union, the San Ramon Valley Education Association, on March 10 -- one day prior to the World Health Organization's declaration that COVID-19 had reached pandemic proportions. That agreement included a salary increase akin to the 2.56% that has since been extended to unionized classified workers as well as management and confidential employees and the superintendent's executive cabinet.
"What I've seen with our management and confidential employees, they've waited to last to make sure that all of our other employees have been taken care of throughout collective bargaining agreements. They've been waiting as long as any of them and longer than most of them," board member Ken Mintz said.
"Yes, there are management employees that are making more than teachers in the classroom, just like any other leadership structure there is increased responsibility and there is compensation for different levels of responsibility," he added.
During Tuesday's meeting board members said they received hundreds of emails from residents, many of whom took issue with the timing of the raise given that the Contra Costa County Office of Education had required that the district reduce expenditures by $8 million -- due to concerns about future structural deficits in the SRVUSD budget in light of costs from the salary bumps for unionized employees.
The county office submitted a plan to help the board reach this number that includes reducing certified employees by 34 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, eliminating 10 FTE classified employee positions, decreasing district business office expenditures, and reducing spending by the cabinet and individual school sites.
"CCCOE has serious concerns regarding the financial condition of the district, due to the additional ongoing costs proposed by the settlement agreements and the district's projection of a negative multi-year ending balance, being further compounded by developing economic events," Medici said in a staff report.