BHEA Statement at the
3.14.2017 Board of Education Meeting regarding Layoffs
Please feel free to share the following letter to any parent or community member you know:
The following statement was given at the 3.14.2017 Board of Education meeting during the Agenda Hearing Period.
Dear Board of Education members, District Administrators, and Members of the Community,
My name is Telly Tse and I am a teacher at the high school and president of the Beverly Hills Education Association. My statement tonight is dedicated to my colleagues Jaclyn, Desi, Mahle, Melissa, Sami, Chrissie, Kelly, Chris, Bobby, Laurie, Lina, Anna, Andrea, Karla, Annie, Lindsey, Jocelyn, Stephanie, Kelly, Pam, Jill, Michelle, and Sarah.
I want the Board and district administration to know that I deeply respect and appreciate their time and efforts in dealing with the challenges that come their way every day. The purpose of my statement is to bring attention to the perspective of our educators and to what we can do to resolve the problem before us as we move forward.
Three years ago, teachers and staff filled the Salter Theater at a Board Meeting to call for salary increases after years of 0%.
In calling for such an increase, we stated publicly in this forum that simply by not rehiring for every person who would be retiring that year, we would save over $2 million dollars a year annually. Approximately twenty educators retired that year, including many who had been in the district for nearly thirty years. $2 million dollars. This year could have been the third consecutive year of that $2 million savings.
A few months later, in August 2014, I went to the New Teacher Orientation Meeting and met nineteen of the new hires. Of those nineteen, four resigned or moved on. Of the remaining fifteen, seven received layoff notices last week in this, their third year of teaching in the district.
In August 2015, I met another nineteen of our new hires. Of those nineteen, eight resigned or moved on. Of the remaining eleven, almost half received layoff notices in this, their second year of teaching in the district.
Since August 2016, twenty-two teachers were hired. Of these twenty-two, three have resigned or are moving on. Of the remaining nineteen, nine have received layoff notices. Of these nine, two were hired as intervention specialists for positions created less than twelve months ago and now the district is proposing to eliminate.
Despite our input three years ago on how we could generate $2 million in savings per year, the district decided to move forward with hiring new staff. Now, don't get me wrong. We have hired amazing educators. But the problem is this: now that the district has hired them, what kind of message are we sending to our teachers, our parents, and our children if we set up our newest teachers in the dawn of their careers by striking down their faith in our district's ability and willingness to protect and take care of them the way the have protected and taken care of our kids?
I don't want to dwell on the mistakes of the past. Not tonight. I want to focus instead on what we can do now to fix this problem of 23 layoffs. What are ways in which the district can make reductions without hurting our educators and students?
- For instance, has the district considered reducing contracting and utility costs ($200,000)
- Revising services and other operating costs ($400,000)?
- Revising property tax revenues projections?
- Offering a comprehensive retirement incentive ($200,000)?
- Revising book/supplies cost projections ($200,000)?
- Revising state revenue projections?
- Sending invoices to every entity that owes the district money. BHEA recently sent the district a check for $80,000. That's one job there.
- Not creating more administrative positions like Director of Communications at a cost of $120,000 - That's another teacher's job right there. What message would we be communicating if we expand administration while eliminating teachers?
The point is this - we the educators have not been given an opportunity to sit down and to offer such suggestions and feedback, suggestions we have offered in the past and that have been successfully implemented to save jobs. We continue to ask a representative from the business department to sit down at the bargaining table with us from beginning to end. This partial list of examples I just mentioned could save the district $1 to 2 million a year every year. I know this because these ideas and actions saved many jobs in 2011.
We have taken some steps in the right direction. The Board voted to move their elections to even years which will save our district hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mrs. Korbatov's idea for the district office property being mixed use can generate millions of dollars in revenue and that is exactly the type of innovative thinking we need from Board members and district administrators.
Our approach should not be “How do we prove that a problem exists?” Our approach should be “How do we work together as a team to overcome any problem that comes our way?”
Our time is limited. Some of our educators who were issued layoff notices have already received offers from other districts - that's how great they are.
The district and its educators have accomplished amazing things when the opportunity to collaborate was presented to us. But that has not happened recently and the negative consequences have been immediate and far-reaching.
Nothing would please me more than to be able to come back here in the near future to speak to how we as a team were able to work together and save the jobs of my 23 colleagues. We always encourage our students to focus and do the best they can. We ask our educators to never give up on themselves and their kids. Now we ask you to do the same.
Have all options been considered? Not just five different options at a study session but all options. Have all stakeholders been consulted? Has the district done every possible thing it can do to save these educators?
Until the answer to all these questions is “Yes”, we must keep problem-solving. We must keep fighting. We are here, ready to join you in this fight. Let’s do this.