Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Should CUSD Trustees Refuse Their Benefits?

Calaveras Enterprise
Opinion Page, Aug. 1, 2014
By Kyle Harvey, 

CSEA Representative
Link: Trustees Should Refuse Benefits

"Trustees Should Refuse Benefits"

As reported in this paper last Friday, the board of trustees of Calaveras Unified School District rejected a tentative agreement California School Employees Association – CSEA – and the district reached in May 2014 that provided classified employees (bus drivers, maintenance, instructional aides, food service workers) a modest pay and benefit increase. The certificated unit had already completed its negotiations with a similar package approved by the board in May 2014. Knowing that the district had been in a “qualified status” regarding its financial ability to pay its debts in out years, we were told the district could afford this increase, but it would be tight.
The end of June we were told the district would not recommend the board ratify our agreement because of unforeseen increases to special education costs and a miscalculation regarding class size reduction funds the district would receive. The narrative from the district and county office then turned to an ongoing problem with a “structural deficit” regarding the ability of the district to continue to operate status quo.
We question why the district would agree in May 2014 to adding an ongoing $1 million increase to ongoing costs for certificated when it knew of this structural deficit. Why would the district consider any ongoing increased cost at all?
The citizens in this district will now question the board‘s resolve to cut spending. They have had six years to tackle this problem. CSEA has asked each board member to set the example and show leadership by rejecting their district-provided health benefit compensation, which has cost the district $236,961 over the last three years. These funds can be used to help fund the structural deficit. In addition, CSEA has asked the board to justify why a trustee receives up to $19,000 for their benefit package when hard working classified employees, who are required by law to pay for their employer-contracted health insurance, receive only $7,680 per year in health benefit compensation. This information makes us wonder where trustees’ priorities have been over the last six years: providing a financially sustainable operation, or the trustees’ own financial well-being.
Kyle Harvey

CSEA representative

--Actual Health & Welfare Expenditures for Past three (3) Years--

Current Costs Attributed to Board Member Health Care Benefits 

(Including Management, Certificated, & Classified)

Here is a handout outlining the Benefit Packages offered CUSD Trustees
"Employee Cost" is actually "Trustee Cost" on this form.


1. Why do the benefit amounts vary so greatly?

2. The public (and most CUSD employees) assumed or thought the Trustees received the same dollar amount for their compensation (board participation); not varied amounts weighed out through Healthcare benefit packages.

I have asked for the evidence--a document (or even a board agenda or meeting notes) to show how these current benefits (and the varied amounts) have come into existence. Not a date or a document or a past agenda has ever been provided. The financial arrangements were made outside the knowledge and view of the public's eye.

The Trustee benefit amounts should be the same; however, there is NO board policy on the amount or when the package can be upgraded (or down graded) as the economy fluctuates. This type of policy when dealing with public funds (a lack of policy and deals made without community input) is unlawful and lacks transparency.

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