San Dieguito Union High School District board to vote on faculty’s 12.5 percent raise at special meeting Dec. 17

The San Dieguito Union High School Board decided to delay its scheduled Dec. 10 vote on its tentative agreement with the San Dieguito Faculty Association, which includes the faculty’s first master contract raise since 2007. The tentative agreement will now be heard at a special board meeting on Dec. 17 at 4 p.m., although not all board members will be available to attend.

On Dec. 7, San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) trustee John Salazar requested that the vote be postponed as the wage increase had only been published on Dec. 4. Salazar said he felt that the board and the public should have more time to review the agreement and its impact on the district’s budget as it represents over $5 million in yearly wages.

“I want to be here (on Dec. 17) and I want to vote but I have an obligation to my employees, stockholders and clients and I can’t be here,” Salazar said, noting he gave three alternative meeting date options and times. “It’s too bad because I would’ve liked to be there to vote but I can’t.”

Salazar said he has committed to calling in to attend the meeting telephonically.

San Dieguito Faculty Association’s tentative three-year contract agreement includes a 7 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2015, a 5.5 percent salary increase for 2016-17 and the flexible spending account will be replaced with district health care.

The agreement was reached through productive interest-based and collaborative negotiations.

According to SDUHSD Superintendent Rick Schmitt, the agreement needs to be voted on by Dec. 31 for CalSTRS (California State Teachers’ Retirement System) new regulations on creditable compensation as it relates to healthcare benefits. The new regulations require school districts to end the flexible spending account model by the end of 2015.

“We can’t wait until 2016,” Schmitt said. “Therefore, the special meeting must take place next week.”

Salazar wanted to know why the district had backed itself into such a tight timeline.

“You knew this was coming up, why wait until the end of the year?” Salazar asked.

Schmitt said they did begin negotiations in the summer but the process was “incredibly complex” due to the transitioning from the district’s years-old flexible spending account model of delivering health care benefits to a more traditional model.

“It was tens of millions of dollars that we didn’t want to pass onto the taxpayers or the employees,” Schmitt said, noting that to deal with the complex legal and financial issues took countless staff hours and multiple meetings — staff even worked on Thanksgiving Day and weekend.

“The good news is we got it done,” Schmitt said, noting that the contract language and salary items came later and went much faster.

Salazar said he took issue with the fact that it took the district months to get through such a complicated issue and then he was only given a day or a week to get through it. He said the public, too, deserved more time to view the disclosure of the collective bargaining tentative agreement.

Schmitt said scheduling the Dec. 17 special meeting allowed for the requested extra time while still meeting the district’s Dec. 31 deadline.

The change in meeting schedule personally impacted SDUHSD Vice President Joyce Dalessandro — she cancelled travel plans, changed flights and will now miss her grandchildren’s holiday performance.

“I only say this to illustrate the importance of this meeting to the teachers in the district and to me,” Dalessandro said. “We are public servants and elected officials and I believe that it is my responsibility to be present at this critical meeting.”

Trustee Mo Muir said that while she was not happy with the district’s process, she wanted to let the teachers know that she appreciates them and all they do to make San Dieguito the best district in the county.

“I’m always 100 percent behind you,” Muir said to teachers in attendance at the meeting. “You’ve done a great job.”