MY newlywed wife and I live in the Hayward Unified School District side of Castro Valley. My wife is a teacher in HUSD and together we are concerned about the funding priorities of the district.

We would like to have a family and to send our children to quality schools, which are hard to find now in Hayward, and may not be available at all in the future.

The most recent issue we are concerned: That the district and Hayward teachers are at impasse over pay raises for this year. The issue arose when the district announced a double-digit raise of nearly 17 percent to the three highest paid superintendents, which is on top of the fact that Hayward currently compensates its supervisors the most compared to nearby school districts. Superintendent salaries in Hayward are

4 percent higher than in Alameda County, 8 percent higher than Newark and Fremont, and 11 percent higher than the New Haven district.

The reason given for the large salary increase for HUSD superintendents is to provide comparable salaries for them to ensure retention of highly qualified administrative staff. But Hayward teachers are leaving in record numbers, most to higher paid jobs in nearby districts. Should the same desire to keep highly qualified staff not apply to teachers? When asked this specific question by the Hayward Educators Association, district superintendents stated there was no relationship between the two at all.

Hayward Teachers were only offered a 3 percent raise this year, below the average for nearby districts of about

5.6 percent. It is the fifth year in a row raises have been at or barely above the cost of living. In 2002 Hayward teachers agreed to suspend a pay package in order for the district to balance the budget. Last year HUSD carried over the highest percentage of unspent funds compared to nearby districts, fully 15 percent of the 2005-2006 budget. This is 6 percent higher than the second highest percentage carry-over, and much higher than the average of about 7 percent unspent for nearby districts

The truth is that Hayward teachers are paid less than most nearby school districts: Highly experienced teachers receive 4 percent less than Alameda County, 9 percent less than San Leandro, 14 percent less than Newark, and 22 percent less than Fremont and New Haven teachers. If the 3 percent raise goes through, Hayward teachers in some experience categories will be the lowest paid compared to all nearby districts. In fact, it would take an average of 13.5 percent pay raise this year for all Hayward teacher pay grades to reach the average pay of nearby school districts.

Hayward Teachers were justified in asking for a double-digit raise for themselves this year.

I want the best teachers possible for my future children, and the money-spending priorities of the HUSD are clearly not to provide them. I support the teachers' demand for a higher raise, and for the sake of our children and their education, I urge you to do so too.

Phillp Vogt is a resident of Castro Valley.