About that 2 percent raise…

Here’s a real-world word problem for you:

The across-the-board salary increase Oakland school district staff have built into the second half of next year’s planning budget (the raise would go into effect in January 2012) would cost about $2 million in general-purpose dollars. For a full year, of course, it’s double that amount.

What if the district tabled that idea in light of the 500-plus March 15 notices it plans to distribute? How many teaching positions could it afford to keep?

Annual cost of a 2 percent raise in OUSD: $4 million

Average teacher cost, according to HR: $73,000

That comes out to more than 54 full-time teaching positions. For the upcoming school year, it would be 27, since the raises wouldn’t start until January and therefore would cost half as much.

Of course, that doesn’t come close to the 538 jobs that could potentially be lost in Oakland’s public schools under the doomsday scenario of losing $900/student, or $30 million, in general-purpose money. (Yes, I’m told that is the scenario upon which the hundreds of March 15 notices were calculated in OUSD. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says that if the tax extension fails, and the state needs to close a $26.6 billion deficit, k-12 education will likely be cut by at least $4 billion — $700 per student — and possibly much more.)

Should the district reconsider the raises to save jobs and minimize disruption to schools and programs? At last night’s meeting, an Oakland adult ed teacher proposed furloughs for that reason. Do you agree?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • J.R.

    Number one, we are a debtor nation, we spend far and away more than we take in(in taxation even though tax burden is quite high on many of us).Federal debt is about $10T and annual federal revenue is about $2.7B, so the federal government has a debt-to-income ratio of about 3.7 to 1. While broke may be just a bit of hyperbole, we cannot continue this pattern of drunken spending. The government needs to be downsized in both scope and benefits(only keep what is truly necessary and beneficial). On that note did you know that State Super Tom Torlakson announced that “time was running dangerously short to place a tax extension on the ballot”. Gee thanks Tom, what would we ever do without you(Our schools would literally fall apart)your salary is money well spent. Sarcasm off! there are just too many unnecessary people and pensions being pushed on the backs of taxpayers, it’s just sickening.

  • Harold

    Its all about busting unions. From Rhode Island, down to Baltimore … over to Wisconsin and now in California.

    Class-warfare has begun in America. Thirty years of trickle-down economics, drugs and neglect has left us with a cynical citizenry, prepared to cannibalize itself.

  • J.R.

    Try working as a physical therapist at a hospital, and physically busting your butt(putting in tons of hours), and then getting taxed at 40% rate(it’s happening to my niece. If you were on the other end of that equation you would get tired of bending over too. See how eager you would be to increase taxes to pay for the comfortable retirement of those who aren’t doing their job(as I said before the good and great I have no problem with paying for, it’s the incompetent and unnecessary that have me bothered).

  • Harold

    @JR – You are on the front lines of the union busting movement. You are totally invested in it. We will not see this the same way. So, we can just agree to disagree.
    I bust my ass everyday at my site. Take extra work home, etc…

  • gordon danning


    If you take a look at the link in my previous post, you will see that we CAN continue the current level of spending. (Entitlement reform is arguably another issue, particularly Medicare).

    More importantly, even if you think that we should reduce deficits, it is manifestly not true that “the government must be downsized,” because “tax revenue as a percentage of the economy is at a 60-year low.” That’s according to Bloomberg.com, not exactly a bastion of the Left. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-07/bonds-show-why-boehner-saying-we-re-broke-is-figure-of-speech.html

  • J.R.

    I can’t remember how long ago, that I told you that it wasn’t just me, well I hope you believe it now. Because things are going to change for the benefit of kids and taxpayers, and we will change it with you or without you. If you do the job that we pay you for(you owe the taxpayers and kids something not the union), then that’s a good thing. It’s the teachers that can’t or wont do their jobs that will need to worry. Union or not new or tenured, simple as that.

  • David Laub

    Public employee pensions are paid by both the employee and employer. The portion paid by the employer is matched by the employee. This is deducted from our gross pay, before net. The portion paid by the employer is part of the total compensation worked out at the bargaining table. There is no freeloading on the backs of taxpayers-this is a blatent fabrication of truth that has been supported, unfortunately by the media-including silence on the facts at this very site. We public workers pay as much as everyone else, at the same tax rates.

    Katy-you should be able to EASILY verify this for your blogosphere. This is an invitation for you to-as the reporter, and author of this blog-to do so.

  • J.R.

    I don’t like Reagan(never have as a matter of fact),but he said something that is very true. “A government that is big enough to do anything FOR you, is big enough to do anything TO you. I don’t want to make a huge list of make-work near useless dept’s and bureaus in government(just Google it yourself), but anyone with any discernment can see we have far more than we need, and money is being wasted. Here are some real numbers on worker/retiree levels paying/receiving from the system. What sounds healthier for the economy 16 workers to one retiree or 3 workers to one retiree?

  • J.R.

    “Public employee pensions are paid by both the employee and employer. The portion paid by the employer is matched by the employee”.

    And ALL of that comes from taxes(plus your union dues as well)courtesy of your local fed up taxpayer. Check my earlier posts to learn how the free market(private sector) works vs the captive market(public sector).My free market employer isn’t forced to pay someone wages irregardless of quality of work(he can fire me any time). In the public sector there are no checks and balances to ensure quality of work, the taxpayer pays regardless(we are stuck, and it might as well be a gun to our collective head. As far as bargaining neither side of the table actually cares(it’s not their money) they don’t go out and struggle to make the money. My dad always said ” if you don’t earn it, you won’t fully appreciate it.

  • J.R.

    Oops here is the the link about retirees:


  • Livegreen

    “Public employee pensions are paid by both the employee and employer. The portion paid by the employer is matched by the employee.” Are you saying that’s true for all public employees? Is that true for teachers? Please clarify. Because I know that this isn’t true for City of Oakland employees. But I don’t know for teachers.

    And Federal employees receive a much more market based, sustainable retirement package (compared to City employees. Again, I don’t know about teachers).

  • TheTruthHurts

    As much as I have questions about how unions work, all this infighting doesn’t seem productive. Old vs. young. Teachers vs. principals. Unions vs. staff. This seems silly.

    Why don’t we just decide what is best of the bad options from the perspective of STUDENTS? I don’t know what that is, but that’s my frame. It doesn’t involve jettisoning veterans, unions or administration.

    It means cutting fat wherever it is, being realistic about the number of schools and the class sizes allowed by state funding. It means reevaluating EVERY dollar spent, including the salaries of “leadership.”

    I hope folks can stop the infighting long enough to realize the students need everyone.

  • gee yu

    trish I saw the packet today that the 1993 teacher got..it not what you called a reassignment… OUSD is telling this teacher that is if the teacher doesn’t not agree with OUSD they have to go to a hearing.. reassignent was never stated in the pages of lawyer talk..

  • Peaches

    @ J.R. Says:
    March 14th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Hey Junior, his name is Barack. Or, President Obama, if you want to be formal.

  • J.R.

    No I have witnessed enough that in my personal determination, Barry suits him just fine.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Livegreen, CalSTRS, the teacher retirement plan in California, is less generous and financially sounder than many other public employee plans. According to the CalSTRSBenefits.us webpage:

    Contribution rates for members and employers have not changed for more than 20 years.
    Employer contributions have remained at 8.25 percent for 20 years.
    Member contributions have been held at 8 percent since 1972.
    Each year the State of California also contributes a percentage of the annual earnings of all members to CalSTRS. The State of California’s contributions declined from 4.3 percent in 1998 to the current 2.017 percent. The teachers’ retirement fund is the only non-state employee pension fund that the state contributes to.

    In 2000, after several years of a booming economy, CalSTRS was actually collecting more money than it was projected it would need to meet its obligations, so the state decreased its contribution and some modest upgrades were offered to retirees. Those upgrades will expire and not be renewed next year. The recession has hit CalSTRS, as it has hit all financial organizations, but as the economy recovers the gap between expected income and expected payments will narrow. Minor adjustments in contributions will allow the system to remain financially strong.

  • Katy Murphy

    Wasn’t this thread about OUSD’s expenditures, budget cuts and the timing of a 2 percent raise to OUSD employees? Let’s get back to it.

  • Oakland Teacher

    The thread title “About That 2% Raise” was deliberately provocative, raising the issue of how dare teachers ask for or accept a raise when our members are being laid off. Of course, that digressed into union hating, teacher blaming, pension hating propaganda. The stuff about Obama’s moniker was off track, but unfortunately, everything else is what would be expected in any article about teacher salary, pensions, layoffs, etc…

    Katy – you forgot to make one thing perfectly clear: The raise is completely hypothetical. It would not even happen until at least a year away. We are working under an imposed contract; today’s reality is there is NO RAISE. The layoffs are unrelated to the board agreeing that someday in the future teachers deserve a raise. Today’s layoffs are not due to any proposed 2% increase. The whole scenario feels “1984 ish”, with the people who set policy playing with us like puppets, not only manipulating action, but thought.

    Unrelated: yesterday one of my struggling students made real and meaningful connections to problem solve/using critical thinking skills. I had the happiest dream last night about him. This is what keeps me going. It must be really hard for teachers who got a March 15 letter to be feeling positive about their work right now; you are all in my thoughts.

  • Katy Murphy

    The 2 percent raise would be for all employees, not just teachers. It’s built into the district’s working budget for next year, and I explained that it wouldn’t begin until January 2012 — thus, costing the district $2 million next year, rather than $4 million. The OEA president, herself, expressed earlier reservations about the implications of the raise and what it would mean for class sizes and other working conditions for teachers.

    It’s a policy question, and a relevant one.

  • livegreen

    Thanks Stephen. This helps me understand that teachers have not gotten the benefit spikes or unsustainable pensions some other Local and State employees received during the bull market.

    When State Budget negotiations breakdown over higher pension contributions by State employees, and the State Unions call for solidarity, remember they’re trading their concessions for major cuts to education..

  • David Laub


    “Wasn’t this thread about OUSD’s expenditures, budget cuts and the timing of a 2 percent raise to OUSD employees? Let’s get back to it.”




  • David Laub

    I just heard that Walnut Creek teachers just got a 3% raise. Walnut Creek does not spend $2000 per student on consultants.

    How much does Walnut Creek spend per pupil on cosultants? Does Oakland spend $2000 per pupil on consultants? How does OUSD compare to other districts on this issue in California? How skewed (statistically) up are we in OUSD on this issue?

  • Katy Murphy

    I recently blogged about a Pepperdine study that compared California school districts’ expenditures on consultants and “the classroom.”

    The report, however, lumped together central consultant costs and those of outside contractors that provide direct services to students. Peter Schrag called the research a “soggy waffle.” http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/node/8648

  • livegreen

    And Troy Flint is still supposed to get back to us with those #s. At what point does thinking “this takes time” reasonably switch to “maybe they don’t want to tell us?”

    Or maybe they want a reasonable answer/solution worked out first?

  • J.R.

    Damage control?

  • http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us Troy Flint

    @Livegreen – Yes, we’re still working on taking the raw data and turning it into something that is accessible for the general public. It’s taking longer than anyone would like, but we have’t forgotten this project.

    Really, we have no motive not to provide this information since the dominant narrative holds that OUSD spends an exorbitant and unreasonable amount of money on unnecessary consulting services. Whatever the actual numbers, at worst, releasing this data would only reinforce the general consensus and at best, it might change a few (very few) minds.

    There’s no strategic reason to withhold the data so I don’t think the conspiracy theories play here, but I do acknowledge the information is overdue. I’ll sit down with Finance, Procurement and Labor Management tomorrow to see what we can provide in short order.

  • gee yu

    WCSD did get a raise heard for an admin directly…J.R. I quit waiting for OUSD and started looking on the school board web site…….

    katy the contracts passed in the last couple of months were never calculated in the pepperdine study

  • The Bottom Third

    Barack Obama. I voted for him. But look what he did:


  • Ms. McLaughlin

    It’s never bothered me to hear someone refer to our president as “Barry.” First of all, it usually means that somebody’s trying to rattle my chain, which can be amusing in itself. It also gives me a quick indication of the level of discourse and insight that will follow, which can save me a lot of time if I’ve got more rewarding things to do, such as catching a nap or refurbishing the catbox.

    For example, blaming President Obama for the country’s current financial strain makes about as much sense as, say, my being blamed for the springtime test scores of several dozen students who’d arrived at high school in the fall reading at third-grade level.

    I wonder where all these rabid deficit hawks were hiding when his predecessor was rushing the country into a couple of huge wars with such little regard for how they’d be financed, immediately or in the coming decades when our country will, I hope, be taking far better care of our disabled veterans than we did and do with some of their predecessors who were bumbled into Vietnam.

    Besides, I’d be a hypocrite if I found the “Barry” stuff irksome. There’s the First Amendment, for one thing, which as a citizen I revere, and which as a teacher I’ve sworn to defend and protect. But some years ago I also won a generous pair of nightclub tickets by phoning in to enter a spur-of-the-moment radio quiz announced over the UC Berkeley station. It was early in 2001, and the question was, “Who can tell us what the W stands for in our new president’s name?” Must have been a slow day at KALX, because I was the first caller, and when I answered “Wienertot!” the DJ said “That’s it. Contest over; you’re our winner.”

    But on a more useful note, I wanted to let people know that our own local hero, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, is one of the guests on tonight’s Charlie Rose show. It will run again at midnight on KQED, and again tomorrow at noon. I only caught a sliver, so I’ll have to set the VCR, but she did express her own disdain at the kind of budget “recovery” that will come from extending tax cuts to millionaires.

    By the way, our government could have saved much money, time, and aggravation by way of Ms. Lee’s health care plan, H.R.3000, which she introduced in June, 2009. Just one of many commonsense bills that make me proud and honored to live in her district.


  • Jesse James

    @Troy Flint: How did your meeting(s) with Finance, Procurement and Labor Management go? The truth and the actual numbers really need to come out– could we get an update?

  • Livegreen

    Thanks Troy, I look forward to your info. I realize it’s complicated sorting out consulting contracts, since even some Central ones might fund site ones (just a guess). I would have hoped OUSD would have codes in its date base to help sort such things out (though i know nothing about data base management, I’m guessing this exists).

  • Livegreen

    BTW, even if Central funding of consultants turns out to be small, and most Central funding supports the schools (heating, security, OUSD PD, maintenance, etc. – I have to look at some of Katy’s previous posts and links in more detail), there are steps that can be taken to mitigate wholesale layoffs and departmental cuts.

    The City of Oakland, no shining light of fiscal management, has given us examples includes:
    -Terminating many unfilled jobs (most of their job cuts actually came from such open positions. It doesn’t hurt anyone so is a no-brainer);
    -Mayor’s voluntary cut, and City Councilmembers pay cuts to their offices;
    -5% cut to all City employees earning $100K+;
    -Requiring all contractors to take a 10% cut.
    -Limits on all travel and meal expenses (I don’t know all the details on this one).

    Some of these are big, some are small, but they all add up. Maybe OUSD is working or has already done some of these, in which case I would appreciate reading about them. But besides getting us the #’s, OUSD, Administration and the Board need to a) Show they’re being proactive; b) Show that they’re actually taking action we can SEE (again, if they are doing some of these we need to read about it); c) Accept that Central HQ needs to share meaningfully in the cuts this year, regardless of last year.

    Without all of these, if the cuts that come down hit mostly Schools, Teachers & Principals (through layoffs), OUSD and the Board are going to hear about it anyway and then either suffer the consequences at the ballot box or backtrack, after the fact. Better to be proactive and show that Parents & Teachers have been heard. Then any other bitter medicine will be easier to swallow.

    I realize I’ve left closing [failing small] schools and other difficult choices off my list. The examples I’ve given is, again, mostly easier, realistic cuts that the City has shown an example on…

  • Leslie

    Has anyone thought about a serious furlough for the politicans in Sacramento and a huge if not complete cut for all expense accounts- yes bring a bag lunch or talk over that peanut butter and jelly sandwich sans the Merlot…..let them take a week off a month…and keep teachers in our classrooms. Who could possibly challange that idea, except the obvious. I had a real eye opener…..the check for the luncheon meeting was just about my salary for the week! Is this idea on Jerry’s plate?