Rowe teachers asking for salary increases


R. Roger Rowe School teachers are looking for a cost of living increase in their salaries as contract negotiations continue between the district and the Rancho Santa Fe Faculty Association (RSFA). At the school board’s Feb. 7 meeting, teachers told the board that as they make decisions regarding facilities, safety and finances, retaining teachers should be a priority in the budget.

The teachers presented their initial proposal to the board in the fall, asking for an on-schedule salary increase effective July 1, 2018 that meets the rising cost of living in San Diego, an increase in stipends to promote higher education, health benefits covered to the highest cost for employee plus one, and compensation to employees who decline health care.

In 2017, the RSF School board agreed to a one-time, on-salary schedule payment equal to two percent for classified and certificated employees, as well as a one-time two percent on-salary schedule payment for both employee groups. District contributions to health care also increased.

The district does not comment on ongoing negotiations.

“Historically over the past 10 years, teachers’ salaries at Rancho Santa Fe have not kept pace with COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) as compared to surrounding districts,” said kindergarten teacher Christi Walter.

Walter said neighboring districts have settled their negotiations and received compensation increases; Solana Beach with a 4 percent increase and Cardiff with a 3 percent increase for the 2018-19 school year.

“Our largest priority as teachers is to make our classrooms a nurturing place where kids can feel safe, loved and challenged. It is personal work. And at times, it can often feel that the school is run like a business,” said Elaine Dolnack, the RSFFA co-president. “I don’t come from a business background, but I don’t feel that my classroom could be run successfully as a business. Therein is where I feel some of our philosophies differ within our learning community. However, I hope that in the future, a cost of living increase in our salaries yearly can be factored into the cost of doing business here in Rancho Santa Fe.”

During her comments, Walter spoke about the budget, which in 2018-19 is projected to have a deficit of $429,060. Walter said she believes that the district has a healthy reserve that can support school programs and fairly compensate teachers.

“As the school board you are the caretakers of the budget, we implore you to look at every department and the cost associated with it and ask is this positively impacting students and the budget,” Walter said, pointing out how administrators and their support teams average $118,000 for six employees and the business office averages $136,000 in salary and benefits for four employees.

“The Rancho Santa Fe Faculty Association looks forward to working collaboratively with the board and administration to prioritize a budget that reflects all stakeholders in the school community,” Walter said.