Rancho Santa Fe School District teachers seek salary increase

R. Roger Rowe School
(Karen Billing)

Negotiations have begun in the Rancho Santa Fe School District between the district and the Rancho Santa Fe School Faculty Association. Longtime R. Roger Rowe School teacher Steve Reviere spoke on behalf of the teachers at the Feb. 23 board meeting, representing their request for a salary increase and a fair wage that would allow the district to retain and attract talented teachers.

“As you consider our proposals on salary and benefits, please recognize that precedence will not serve us well because things are different,” Reviere said.

Reviere said in the current climate, staff has endured leadership changes such as three superintendents and four middle school principals in seven years and is struggling due to cost of living increases. They have fallen to last in salary compared to neighboring school districts such as Solana Beach, Encinitas, Del Mar and Cardiff. Rancho Santa Fe teachers earn 16.5% less than Solana Beach School District staff when looking at total compensation packages, he said.

The teachers question why the district is holding 22.7% or $3.3 million in reserves when only a 4% reserve level is required by the state: “There is more than enough to cover our request and for the district to still have healthy reserves.”

Reviere said the teachers are committed to creating a “culture of excellence” for students and that despite the distractions, they have produced test scores that are “superior” to surrounding districts.

“We are on the same team and improving student learning is our shared interest. How to achieve that can only happen if the staff is not distracted from the fact that we are unfairly compensated relative to the money that we sit on and the packages offered by our sister school districts,” Reviere said. “Pay us differently, pay us well.”

In 2021, teachers received a 4% salary increase for the 2020-22 school years. The board approved a budget with a deficit for this school year, including funds set aside to replace the gym roof this summer. At the first interim review in December, the district was projecting to deficit spend by $226,355 with unknowns still to be determined by the teacher contract negotiations.