People who voted for Prop 123 thought (rightly) that the District was really suffering, and (wrongly) that is why teachers have been struggling with high class sizes, reduced performance pay and such low wages. As it turns out, however, the District has been carrying over money designated to solve those problems to build a large reserve instead...on the very backs of the teachers and students the money is meant to help. The incumbents proudly claim credit for election year raises and increases in performance pay that are coming from many millions in 301 money that should have been paid to teachers before now, instead of being carried over. In other words, just like Prop 123, funds that were designated to go to teachers haven't gone to them.
Here's how it works: The District wrings its hands about low teacher pay and difficulty in retaining its teachers. The Superintendent and Board members blame a national teacher shortage for TUSD’s overuse of (outsourced) substitute teachers. Behind the scenes, TUSD has been withholding teacher performance pay to build millions in reserves: 2012/13, $6.3 million, 2013/14, $11.7 million, 2014/15 $15.4 million . Newest figures show that TUSD will carry over almost $20 million dollars into 2017/18. These reserves were legally but (unethically) built up by not paying teachers the performance pay available for them under Proposition 301.
Wonder about all the teachers who have left TUSD since the (then new) Superintendent was hired? It works out to around 1,200 teachers! That’s about 47% of all of TUSD’s teachers. How many of these experienced teachers would have stayed, if they had been receiving better pay increases and more performance money all along. And by the way, this is not primarily baby boomers retiring, as HR announced two years in a row to a meeting of parents and site council members from all across the district. It is primarily resignations, not retirements.
(When we ARE talking about retirees, though: What about the teachers who retired without the raises and performance money that would have increased their incomes and their retirement pay? How many of them would have stayed instead of retiring?)
The other large districts, TUSD’s peers, pay competitive wages and don’t have TUSD’s large numbers of unfilled teaching positions. It that money had been payed out as it came in, TUSD might have been able to provide more of our students with permanent teachers like the other large districts, instead of revolving substitutes. As a school volunteer who taught English to parents, I saw for myself how year-long teaching by substitutes affects enrollment: Badly!
The bottom line is that to solve chronic problems, TUSD needs new leadership that doesn't just talk about putting its resources behind teachers and classrooms, but actually does it. I know that within Arizona we have some of the lowest expenditures to the classroom, mirrored by some of the highest spending on administrators. And I know that our kids, their teachers and schools deserve better. When I get on the Board, I intend to do something about it.