True Love for Our Teachers
In Poway Unified School District, we love our teachers. When Teacher Appreciation Week comes, we shower our teachers with flowers, gift cards and all tokens of appreciation. We appreciate their hard work, their dedication and their passion in teaching our kids.
Then why so many parents and community members at the April 14th special PUSD Board Meeting voiced their criticisms of the 2014-2015 PFT renegotiation contract that would give our teachers an extra retroactive pay raise and implored the board to reject the contract? And so many parents expressed the same concerns again at the April 20th regular PUSD Board meeting when more than two hundred teachers of Poway Federation of Teachers, dressed in blue T-shirt uniforms, demanded their “fair shares” because Superintendent Collins reassured the PFT president that the district has sufficient funding to give teachers extra retroactive pay raise?
The answer is short. Our district’s fiscal reality cannot be more different from what Dr. Collins deceptively assured our teachers. In 2014-2015 school year, we are facing a $21M deficit. Our district’s reserve fund will decline from $56M at the beginning of the school year to merely $35M at the end of the school year. If we give teachers a 3.5% extra retroactive pay raise as in the PFT renegotiation contract, the district has to pay an additional $8M from our reserve fund, further depleting our meager reserve fund to only $27M. This kind of deficit spending is simply unsustainable.
When 2017 comes, we have to start accumulate funds to pay back the $1B Capital Appreciation Bonds, another “masterpiece” championed by Dr. Collins back in 2011. Dr. Collins convinced the then PUSD board that it was in our district’s interest to borrow $105M bonds in Capital Appreciation Bonds without call option. Taxpayers later found out that we have to pay back almost one billion dollars for these $105M school bonds. It is such a reckless decision that California State later outlawed school districts to borrow money using Capital Appreciation Bonds.
In an essence, in pushing for deficit spending to give teachers extra retroactive pay raise during 2014-2015 school year, Dr. Collins repeats what has become the signature mistakes of his tenure: Self-dealing, back-door deals, instant gratification with no consideration for our district’s future. We cannot afford to allow Dr. Collins to continue run our district’s finance in such an irresponsible way.
If you care about fiscal sustainability of our district, if you care about the long-term well-being of our teachers, please join us at the May 18th PUSD board meeting and let our concerns be heard. Please implore the board to veto the 2014-2015 PFT renegotiation contract. Please implore the board to hold Dr. Collins accountable for his reckless actions. Please implore the board to keep their campaign promise of transparency and accountability. Please implore the board to put our fiscal house in order now so that, when 2017 comes, we are ready to face the tremendous challenge of the $1B CABs together. And above all, when 2017 comes, we can assure our teachers that their jobs will be secure.
May is here. It is a perfect time to show our teachers that we truly love them, not just for one short week, but for years to come.