Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 3, 2016

You shall not impasse

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Disappointing but not unexpected, the teachers union (AEA) and the school district have reached an impasse on contract negotiations.  Late yesterday afternoon this press release was sent out by the school district:

AUSD and AEA Declare Impasse in Negotiations

Alameda, Calif. — June 2, 2016 — The Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) and the Alameda Education Association (AEA) have asked the state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to declare an impasse in the two teams’ salary negotiations, the district announced today.

The district and the union have been negotiating various articles in their contract since January. While Tentative Agreements have been reached on numerous articles, “our perspectives on salaries are so far apart that we all agreed we need outside help to come to a mutually beneficial resolution,” Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said.

If PERB declares an impasse, the agency will assign a third party mediator to work with the two teams. If they still can’t come to agreement, they’ll enter into factfinding, in which a panel reviews the arguments and proposals of both sides and then develops a recommended course of action.

AUSD’s Offer

By the end of the day on Wednesday, June 1, the AUSD bargaining team made offers that would:

· Provide increases of teacher compensation by 4.6% over the life of a two-year contract

· Expand the ways in which teachers could use sick leave

· Ease the transition to full-day kindergarten programs of value to both students and families

“We were disappointed that this offer was rejected,” McPhetridge said, “as we are trying to give as much as we can within our limited resources. Our intention all along has been to work with our AEA colleagues to find an agreement that supports our employees while both protecting AUSD’s financial future and serving Alameda families.”

Budget Background

AUSD employees have received a 10 percent increase in compensation over the last three years – including last year, when the district increased total compensation to AEA unit members by 5%.

The district’s current budget forecast, however, shows a deficit of $17.5 million by the end of 2018-2019, due in part to:

· Alameda’s Measure A parcel tax, which brings $12 million per year to the district, expires in June, 2018. More than 80 percent of those revenues go to teacher salaries.

· State funding to AUSD is less than many surrounding districts, and the state has imposed new restrictions on the funds it does provide.

The Path Forward

The district hopes to place a renewal of the Measure A parcel tax on the ballot in November of this year. But the district can’t create state-mandated budget forecasts based on hoped-for funds. Instead, districts are required to provide detailed evidence that they will be able to cover their expenses in the current year plus the next two years. Districts that can’t do that risk being taken over by the state.

“As much as we wish we could provide larger raises to our teachers, we can’t risk going far into the red by doing so,” McPhetridge said. “In the long run, that would negatively affect our students, our programs, and our staff. Indeed, AUSD and AEA discussed at the table how to work together to find a long-term solution that could bring AUSD teachers closer to the median salary in the county.

“While I am saddened that we have reached an impasse, I have a deep faith in the process and the people leading it,” he continued. “When two sides can’t agree, the best way to move forward often is to have a neutral expert come in, analyze the data, and help find common ground. I remain optimistic that we can find compromise and reconciliation if we keep talking.”

This is, of course, really rotten timing — or really good timing  if you’re all about glasses half full and stuff — given that the school district really really wants to get the parcel tax passed this year.  Conflicts between the teachers union and the district won’t make for very good optics when it comes time to ask people to open their hearts and wallets for more money for schools.  While what the District is saying makes perfect and logical sense, on the other hand, the parcel tax is going to need a heavy lift from the teachers union to put some boots on the ground (and beloved faces in voter’s faces) if they want to get this parcel tax passed.



  1. It looks like there is a special school board meeting this afternoon, with a closed session item on labor negotiations as the only agenda item:

    Let’s hope they can make one more push to resolve this now and end the school year on a positive note.

    Comment by Peace — June 3, 2016 @ 6:28 am

  2. This isn’t going to go well. We live in a community with spiraling rents and property values, good schools, and many ongoing and prospective developments, but the teachers salaries are among the lowest in the Bay Area?

    Comment by Captain Obvious — June 3, 2016 @ 6:29 am

  3. Bad timing, maybe, for another reason. If resident landlords in Alameda, those that vote, are soured by the prospect of a parcel tax and hard core rent control also on the ballot with unknown per unit fees to be paid to a future Rent Board, you may miss the required % of voters. That would be a mistake, and a bad one, as within the Bay Area, Alameda ranks like Alabama within the US when it comes to teacher pay, but for some it may be hard to separate the two issues

    Comment by MP — June 3, 2016 @ 7:11 am

  4. Add to that the fact that when the Measure A parcel tax was promoted the first time, it was trumpted as being “for the kids.” And before you counter that “without good money you don’t get good teachers and good teachers benefit the kids”, I wonder where the evidence is that proves that salary level improves the level of teaching. Seeing that 80% of those funds went to the teachers and also considering that many voters are non-union workers whose own wages have stagnated and not increased since the recession, they may be less inclined to renewal. I certainly think that teachers are not paid enough, but there has to be a better way to accomplish this than an added burden on the already difficult housing affordability issue. Higher property taxes does not just negatively affect homeowners. It means higher rents, too.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 3, 2016 @ 8:39 am


    Overall Rank
    “School-System Quality” Rank

    39 Alabama 39
    43 California 37

    Comment by jack — June 3, 2016 @ 9:14 am

  6. #5 This fact alone should be enough to prompt anyone with kids in a California public school to move to another state.

    This would solve part of the traffic problem.
    It would also free up some apartments and houses.

    Is it truly the weather that keeps people here?

    Comment by A Neighbor — June 3, 2016 @ 12:56 pm

  7. 6. what keeps you here ?

    Comment by MI — June 4, 2016 @ 7:48 am

    • oops. Should have used reply function for 7.

      Comment by MI — June 4, 2016 @ 7:49 am

  8. if income property owners with positive cash flow vote against maintaining the current parcel tax they are shooting themselves in the feet

    Comment by MI — June 4, 2016 @ 7:53 am

    • I don’t disagree. But resident income property owners that are making their decision on that cash flow analysis (as opposed to being generally hacked off) may be basing it on as-of May 2015 rents given the possibility that the ARC initiative will pass and cause rents to revert to May 2015 rents (or thereabouts, I forget the exact date to which the rent roll-back is set). And they may be factoring in additional costs that the ARC initiative would impose directly or indirectly. Maybe I am exaggerating the effect of having these two issues on the same ballot and the sentiment (which is surely not uniform) and voting power of resident landlords, maybe not. (I think the rent study presented to the Council last year showed that about half of the rental units in Alameda list an owner or owning entity located in Alameda; that does not translate easily into votes even in terms of some rough order of magnitude, but there is still a significant group of voters represented there) Measure A originally passed with about a 2% margin I think. Maybe Measure A proponents are better off being on the same ballot, before the effects of the ARC initiative, if it passes, are felt.

      Comment by MP — June 4, 2016 @ 12:45 pm

  9. It’s very difficult to see any “glass half full” aspect of this conflict if it extends into the fall. Given how critical the parcel tax funding is for everything in the school district (including teacher salaries and positions, counselors, athletic and enrichment programs, technology, keeping neighborhood schools open, etc.) fighting over 1-2% salary and jeopardizing the 12% of the entire budget that is dependent on renewing the current school parcel tax would be the epitome of “penny wise, pound foolish.”

    Analogy for Game of Thrones fans: If the parcel tax is not renewed in November, Winter is Coming and we all lose in devastating ways. It’s time to unify south of the Wall.

    Comment by Peace — June 4, 2016 @ 8:02 am

    • I don’t follow AUSD politics or policy too closely. My understanding is that even with current Measure A funding, the district has cut back, within the last year, on at least one counselor position that serves elementary. Don’t hold me to that.

      Comment by MP — June 4, 2016 @ 12:50 pm

  10. It will be an interesting Ballot in November. Seems to be a bit late to be rallying for the extension of Measure A. In addition Alameda County is considering an Affordable Housing Prop that would add $12.00/ $100000 of Accessed value. Measure AA $12.00 for Saving the Bay and Rent Control.

    Comment by frank — June 4, 2016 @ 8:16 am

    • why late to rally for an extension ? AA is on this ballot.

      Comment by MI — June 4, 2016 @ 9:33 am

  11. Re 8 “. they are shooting themselves in the feet.”

    If they’re smart enough to have a positive cash flow they’re probably smart enough to stop shooting after hitting one foot.

    Personally I’m not voting for any tax until Bush leave office and Obama turns this economy around…

    Comment by jack — June 4, 2016 @ 9:15 am

  12. Interesting that our elected leaders in Sacramento have done nothing to fix this funding discrimination against Alameda students since the base closed so long ago. My take is that our senators and assembly members have been representing their own interests at the expense of Alameda students.

    Comment by JohnB — June 4, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

    • John B, in case your think that it is the unions or other so called special interests that drive this ongoing inequity it is not. Very simple math here. Legislation to change this requires a majority vote and since those votes come from other districts which get more money than we do, even if the reps to those districts agree that the system is unfair, their yes vote may require cutting the cutting funding for their schools and therefore they would be shooting themselves in their feet when it comes to getting re-elected. Politics 101.

      The only way to solve this would be to start over with a proposal to fund all school at the maximum level, i.e. increase the over all size of the state pie. That would require more tax dollars from somewhere. Not all that interesting, just frustrating. The other solution would involve a victory in the courts of the current law suit named after a plaintiff from our district. Ironically the student for whom the suit is named has graduated college already.

      Comment by MI — June 4, 2016 @ 1:44 pm

      • I was not blaming the unions. I understand how politics works. I also understand leverage. There was a time when the Democrats made desperate deals with some Republican lawmakers to get a budget passed. It is funny that a Democratic lawmaker couldn’t take that opportunity to right this historical wrong. I know that if I was in Sacramento at the time, I would have. I didn’t realize that these disparities were repaired by Gov Brown in 2013. Thanks Mike for the info. It came from a Governor, not the lawmakers who actually live(d) in this town. So much for local leadership.

        Comment by JohnB — June 7, 2016 @ 6:09 pm

    • Actually, Governor Brown changed the funding formula for schools in 2013. As a result, funding disparities of $1000 per studnet that existed between Alameda and school districts like Dublin and Pleasantion have disappeared.

      Comment by Mike McMahon — June 5, 2016 @ 9:40 am

  13. After sending out dueling Press Releases last week about the breakdown in negotiations, AUSD and AEA are meeting again today to try to resolve matters before the end of the current school year. Thank you to both sides for reconsidering. “Compromise” isn’t a bad word. In fact, given what’s ahead in 2016, it’s the right thing to do and the only responsible approach.

    Comment by Peace — June 7, 2016 @ 6:49 am

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