The Burton School District issued an update on its negotiations to reach an agreement with the Burton Elementary Teachers Association, providing an outline of what it states it has offered the district's teachers.
The district sent out a letter on the negotiations to its community on Monday night.
The district also stated another negotiating session is being held with BETA with a state mediator today. The district and BETA first met with a state mediator on January 12, but were unable to reach an agreement.
The issue is BETA's position that the district doesn't provide competitive salaries as compared to other districts in the area and the district addressed that issue in its letter.
The letter begins “Dear District Staff and Community Members, The Board of Trustees, Superintendent, and the Negotiations Team know that providing the best quality education and supporting the needs of our students is only possible because of all our employees' hard work and dedication. Attracting and retaining a highly qualified staff has always been our priority and having competitive salaries is one of the primary ways we can ensure that.”
The letter went onto to state: “The District has a financial responsibility to staff and most importantly, our students.
The letter stated the district has a responsibility to plan for future needs to make sure ongoing expenses such as salaries and benefits “will be affordable in the future and allow us to sustain our current staffing levels and continue to provide services and resources to our students and families.”
The letter stated the district's budget is determined by the state budget and the state budget changes year to year. “School finances are complex and many of our funding sources are restricted and governed by the State of California or the Federal Government, on how the funds are used, additionally, some funds are only available short term and once the funds are spent, those funds go away,” the letter stated.
The district did state its reserves were 26 percent of total expenditures as of June 30, 2022, which the district states is the average in the state. The district stated having an “adequate reserve” allows it to be more strategic in reducing expenditures when faced with a financial crisis. “An adequate reserve protects students, employees, and the public,” the letter stated.
The district stated its budget is available on its website www.burtonschools.org under the Business Services section.
The district stated it was able to come to an agreement with its classified employees in October, 2022. As far as negotiations with BETA, the district stated “While we have reached mutual agreement on several items proposed by either party, the remaining items left to settle are related to salary increases.”
The district added negotiations for unrepresented groups such as administration, nurses, counselors, psychologists, coordinators and district office state have not begun for the 2022-2023 year.
The district stated it has offered a 7.56 percent salary increase to BETA while BETA has asked for an 11.25 percent increase.
BETA has stated the lack of competitive salaries has led the district to losing teachers to other district's. The letter in conclusion also addresses that issue.
“The Board of Trustees, Superintendent, and the Negotiations Team remain committed to reaching a
fair and equitable agreement with BETA, as we did with our Classified union while keeping in
mind the overall impact to the academic and socio-emotional needs of our student, retention of our
employees and recruitment of future employees,” the letter stated.
The letter was signed by the Burton board and superintendent Sergio Mendoza. Burton school board members are president Obdulia Guzman Alvarado, vice president Jay Rice, Ed Patino Jr., Daniel Figueroa and Dawn Crater.
BETA issued the following statement in response to the district's letter, maintaining its position a lack of competitive salaries is hurting the district.
“BETA completely agrees that being financially responsible is very important to the overall health of the district long term,” the statement said. “When considering where to place resources we also think that the most important place is with human resources and keeping our incredible teachers happy and here in the Burton district.
“Without competitive wages we risk losing quality educators to neighboring districts which will force Burton to have to continuously hire new teachers over and over and over again; and those inexperienced teachers will not be able to bring our kids back to grade level with the same skill as our current experienced teachers.”
BETA also continued to state the district has the funds to compensate teachers adequately. “Secondly, it's not about whether the district has the money or not it's about where they're allocating the funds and we are suggesting that they allocate them, again, with the people on the front lines, the teachers, rather than allocating them to outside programs and upper management at the district office. There's enough money.”
BETA also stated negotiations should have been completed before its new contract year began on July 1, 2022. “This is creating an ongoing distraction that should have been resolved a long time ago and is affecting the education of our kids,” BETA stated.
BETA added it was looking forward toward today's negotiations. “We're hopeful that we can come to a resolution that will work for everybody,” BETA stated.