OAKLAND -- Oakland principals are being asked to trim their schools' budgets for next year by 7 percent. Layoffs are a possibility, too, as the district prepares to cut its expenses by $12 million.
But the budget projections to be shared at Wednesday's school board meeting come with a trade off -- a 2 percent raise for all Oakland school district employees.
The proposed paycheck enhancements would cost about $2 million, according to district staff. That pay scale boost, which is built into the district's projections, comes as employee unions throughout the state are taking furloughs or other monetary concessions, and shortly after an Oakland schools parcel tax measure to raise salaries failed at the polls.
"From a fiscal standpoint, it's not the most opportune time, but our teachers have gone quite awhile without significant raises," said Troy Flint, a spokesman for the school district. "Our superintendent is committed to making this happen."
Oakland teachers, who are among the lowest-paid in the county, held a one-day strike last April after the school district imposed a contract that included no changes in the pay scale. The union remains strike-legal, though no further walkouts have been called.
The school board's top three budget priorities, to be approved Wednesday, call for improving teacher retention, eliminating the district's structural deficit and increasing employee compensation.
"I think to some extent it's an olive branch," Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association, said about the proposal.
Olson-Jones said she believes all of the employee groups deserve a raise. Still, she said, she is concerned about the climate in which they are being offered. If Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax extension doesn't make it onto the June ballot and pass, California's public schools could lose about $330 per student in state revenue, according to School Services of California, a company that provides fiscal analysis to school districts.
California schools already receive $2,580 less per student than the national average, according to the National Education Association.
"We don't want to get into a situation where employees are being given a sorely deserved raise and it's going to result in increased class size," Olson-Jones said.
Read Katy Murphy's Oakland schools blog at IBAbuzz.com/education.
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