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Board Meeting Summary - 4/17/2024: The Union vs. Our Kids; Just Kidding About Improving Academics; Finally a Cell Phone Policy?

The Union vs. Our Kids: $8.4M for Teachers. $0 for Students

The Board voted (4-1; Vurbeff: No) to approve an Agreement with the Carlsbad Unified Teachers Association for a 4.5% raise for our Certificated Teachers, bringing their average compensation to ~$127,000. According to the required Financial Disclosure, the estimated cost of the raise is $8.4 million through the 2025-26 school year, although the raise is permanent, meaning the Agreement will have an ongoing annual cost of $3.6 million.

Assistant Superintendent Eric Dill acknowledged that salary costs will be dropping significantly (~$5.2M) by letting go of approximately 37 teachers since the funding for them has run out. The funding source for the $8.4 million raise was not discussed.

When the Union negotiates an $8.4M raise, what do the kids get? Nothing. Far worse - they get larger class sizes and less tutors and intervention teachers to help them catch up. The next time the Union tells you they fight for our kids, ask them what our kids got with their $8.4M raise.

Trustee Vurbeff asked why the Board was being asked to approve the CUTA Agreement in April when the 2024-25 Budget and staffing levels have not yet been proposed or approved. Assistant Superintendent Dill indicated that the Agreement “is based off of the current year, and so the bargaining has been for the 2023-24 school year.” Note: this is inaccurate, as most of the Agreement and costs ($7.2M) fall in the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years. The impact of the Agreement on the 2023-24 school year is only $1.2M.

Trustee Vurbeff voted “no” based on the Agreement being brought before the Board prior to making decisions about staffing levels and potential “me too” raises to LIUNA and CUSD Administrators, which will have significant impacts on the budget

Employee Appreciation Resolution

The Board approved (5-0) a resolution in appreciation of our teachers..

Transitional Kindergarten Instructional Materials Adoption

The Board heard a presentation from the District Office Staff about a proposed curriculum for TK students. Five different curriculum options were reviewed, and the preferred option was Frog Street, at a cost of $75,000.

The District estimated that current TK enrollment is about 150 and expected to grow to over 200 next school year. As this is only an initial review, no vote was taken to approve the curriculum.

Statutory School Fee Increase

The Board voted (5-0) to approve the maximum possible increase to developer fees for construction to $5.17 per square foot, based on a Report provided by a consulting firm.

Assistant Superintendent Dill indicated that the increase in fees should not discourage development because most builders expect these fees. No data was provided in the Report to support this claim.

Despite projections of enrollment continuing to decline to approximately 10,000 students over the next few years, Assistant Superintendent Eric Dill recommended approving the increase in order to maintain funding for things like portable buildings on campus. No explanation was provided for why portable buildings would need to be maintained if enrollment continues to decline.

LCAP Goals & Indicators: Backtracking on Approved Goals

Just Kidding About Raising Standards: The Board voted (3-2; Rallings and Ward: No) to approve Exhibit A, which rejected increased academic goals previously approved by the Board at the March 2024 LCAP Workshop in favor of the District Staff’s suggestions to get rid of 26 of the 54 goals.

Although the data for the rejected goals will still be presented, they will no longer be “goals” which the District will need to meet. Assistant Superintendent Nye stated that the goals would be too difficult to achieve and “demoralizing” if the goals are not met.

Rejecting All-Day Kindergarten: The Board also heard information on a proposal for a trial program for all-day Kindergarten (est. $900K). Staff believed it would be beneficial but was not recommending it due to a lack of available funds.

Keeping Elementary Intervention Teachers: Staff recommended keeping 9 elementary intervention teachers (at a cost of approximately $1M) despite previously stating during the discussion of the CUTA Agreement that none of the teachers funded with temporary dollars would be continuing.

Cutting Help for Middle and High School Teachers: Staff presented a slide with current intervention programs for secondary students, but did not recommend expanding any of these programs, and suggested that some would be cut.

Union-Employed Board Trustee Again Tries to Eliminate Standardized Testing: During the Discussion period, California Teachers Association employee and CUST Trustee Kathy Rallings again proposed to remove standardized tests from the LCAP, a well known CTA talking point. To justify her request, she repeated an off-hand comment by Assistant Superintendent Nye at a previous board meeting that low test scores are the result of students not taking the tests seriously. She also stated that low standardized test scores “confuse” the community into thinking our students are not doing well even though our graduation rates are high. Note: this is a tell-tale sign of grade inflation.

Trustee Ward indicated that assessments were still needed to figure out if goals were being met, but suggested that high school students do not need to be assessed because they are already being tested with AP tests. Note: many students do not take AP classes and tests.

Trustee Rallings voted “no” because standardized testing was not being removed from the LCAP. Trustee Ward voted “no” because the standardized testing for high school students was not being removed.

The Cell Phone Ban - Finally Revealed After 6 Months

The Board heard a presentation from the District Staff which finally included a proposal for revising the existing cell phone use policy to more strictly prohibit the use of phones during class time.

In elementary and middle school, phones will be expected to be put away and turned off all day. In high school, phones will be put away and out of sight during class, but can be used at lunch or on breaks.

The Board also agreed to direct Staff to add these informal “practices” (i.e., not enforceable policy) into the formal policy to make the rules easier to enforce. Staff will revise the policy and bring it back in May for approval

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