AUSD Compensation Project: Records Request Sent to School District

In addition to looking at statistics available from the state Department of Education, Albany Patch has requested information from the school district as we look into the topic of compensation. Add your thoughts or questions below.

Last week, Albany Patch told readers , and the compensation of officials, in the .

With the state financial crisis continuing to impact schools throughout California, the issue of .

We intend to take an unbiased look at district compensation, how it affects the overall budget, and how it can affect teacher retention as well as other issues in the classroom.

Asked one reader: "If AUSD is asked to maintain high standards, what realistically are they going to have to pay for it?"

We're not sure if we'll be able to find answers, but we'll do our best to explore the questions that are most important to you.

As part of this investigation, Albany Patch submitted a public records request to the school district on Thursday.

Here's what we asked to see:

  1. Total cost of employment for the superintendent and assistant superintendent 
  2. Average teacher salary, 2011-12
  3. Current contract between the Albany Teachers Association and AUSD 
  4. Number of teachers in each step/column of the ATA salary schedule (2012-13)
  5. Number of new teachers hired for 2011-12
  6. Number of people for whom the district pays full retiree health benefits, and the total cost of those benefits (2007-2012)
  7. Total number of teachers employed by AUSD, and the FTE, 2011-12 
  8. Cost of teacher health benefits—broken into the base premium for each insurance plan, the number of individuals enrolled in each plan, and the total amount paid by the district for each type of insurance plan (2007-2012)
  9. The cost of health benefits for each school board member (2007-2012)

This information—in addition to interviews with teachers and district officials—will ideally give us a more complete picture of the topic of compensation in the Albany Unified School District.

As before, we want to hear from you. We received numerous comments after last week's post, and hope you'll keep it coming; your feedback will help fuel a fair and fruitful investigation. 

As we continue interviewing sources and sorting through statistics, we intend to give regular updates of our progress.

UP NEXT: We'll share highlights from a recent interview with Albany Teachers Association negotiation chair Loring Barker.

Share your questions, suggestions and opinions in this story's comment section, or send us an email at albany@patch.com. Read more about the school budget here.

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

Ira Sharenow July 22, 2012 at 11:16 AM
http://ausdk12.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=95891&type=d&pREC_ID=253036 You might want to take a look at pension benefits and the change in accounting rules. How will this impact the district's ability to be certified as financially solvent? How do changes in teacher compensation such as annual raises in a depression economy compare to what happened to other municipal employees (furloughs and paying part of health insurance premiums) and many other California workers (layoffs and underemployment)? Precisely how is the AUSD $$$ per ADA computed? Any state $$$ in lieu of University Village parcel taxes or in lieu of no parcel taxes from the transfers (legal and otherwise from WCCUSD)?
Ira Sharenow July 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM
It looks like Marla has received a significant raise. Also it appears that her raises are linked to getting higher compensation for teachers. How odd. http://ausdk12.org/ourpages/auto/2011/10/20/56901325/Superintendent_s%20Contract%205_15_12.pdf I found this interesting. http://ausdk12.org/ourpages/auto/2011/10/20/56901325/Albany%20Board%20Self%20Evaluation%20results.pdf http://ausdk12.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=142157&type=d&pREC_ID=332488 The Superintendent's initial annual base salary shall be Two Hundred and Thirty eight Thousand dollars ($238,000.00) per annum payable in twelve (12) equal monthly payments. In addition, Superintendent shall receive the Longevity step applicable to all District administrators and managers based upon their years of administrative service in the District. Effective July 1, 2012, the Superintendent will be entitled to the longevity step associated with her thirteen (13) years of administrative service with the District. The administrator longevity grid is attached hereto as Attachment A. During the years of the employment agreement the Superintendent will be entitled to have her salary increased by the percentage equal to the total compensation raise received by the members of the Albany Teachers Association in any given year.
Michael Barnes July 22, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Steven, While in general, I applaud your willingness to dig into this topic, I can tell you right now where you will hit some roadblocks. First problem is benchmarking. How will you benchmark this data? To statewide averages (bad idea)? Surrounding school districts (better idea)? There isn't much point into have AUSD jump through hoops to get you this data if you can't get comparable data from surrounding districts. So I'd like to politely suggest that you are going about this backwards. It would be better construct your comparison group first, and work out your data access issues there. Then you can go to AUSD and them for their data. This will streamline the process all around. BTW, I'm sure the AUSD school board struggles with these same issues often, I know we did when I was on the board, so welcome to the club!
Ira Sharenow July 22, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Good point. Obviously there is a need for comparisons. Many of the various teacher contracts can be found online. All sorts of comparisons can be made at Ed-Data. As for superintendent’s salary, the SARC reports make comparisons with similar sized schools. I think the board aims for the median in the area, but AUSD is one of the smallest districts in the area. Anyway according to the most recent SARC, the AUSD supe’s salary was $210,500 while the average for similarly sized districts was $148,555. Principal salaries are about 25% higher than for similar sized districts. Teacher salaries are only a few percentage points higher than the average, but I do not think that bonus money or health insurance benefits are part of the comparison. I do not see any mention of the size of the pensions or various other perks in the SARC reports. “If this Agreement is terminated, the Superintendent shall be compensated for all unused, accrued vacation at the salary rate effective at the time of termination. The Superintendent’s per diem shall be calculated by dividing the annual salary (base + longevity) by the number of work days, e.g., a denominator of 225 days. Vacation time may be accrued from year to year."
Ira Sharenow July 22, 2012 at 07:11 PM
“The District agrees to pay the Superintendent’s employee contribution to State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), not to exceed 8% of the salary. … she shall be entitled to receive District paid medical, dental and vision premiums … until the end of the month in which the Superintendent reaches the age of seventy (70), at the same levels provided for the regular certificated employees of the District. How does all of this compare to changes in compensation for the classified employees? Not counting pass through money, what percentage of the total budget is each type of compensation getting? How has this evolved over the years? The Superintendent shall accrue seventeen (17) days of sick leave each year of employment under this Agreement. Earned, unused, sick leave may be accumulated without limitation.” It looks like the district’s chief contract negotiator is incentivized to get certificated compensation to be as high as possible. Is that standard? What is the rationale for that?
Bruce Dixon July 22, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I'd be curious to know how many full time non-teaching positions there are. Also the comparisons regarding how much greater (if any) the salary and benefits packages are to similar sized school districts. Where might a person go to find such data?
Marsha Skinner July 22, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Re: #6 You are asking for a total number here, and I'd guess that it will include non-teachers You might want to request this this by position, or type of employee
Tatter Salad July 22, 2012 at 09:20 PM
There is another fine point, a VERY expensive one, that is missing. It is in defining the term 'teacher.' You may mean 'conducts classes' while the school simply means 'paid as -'. There are very-tenured 'teachers' that don't conduct daily/hourly classes, - which may have (token) 'advisory' or 'supervisory' roles... but not really 'administrative' roles. Many California schools are forcefully encumbered by this c/o Teachers-Union edict regarding those teachers that have served 'x'-amount of years as being 'entitled.' You will find older schools have a great deal of 'non-teaching-teachers' as overhead, while newer schools have none of it. (btw: This is one little policy that inhibits teachers from jumping to a new school district, even though they would LOVE to.) Another financial imbalance frequently seen is the budget spent on P.E. department salaries-, versus, say, the English department or Math department. It has to do with the Administrative Staff of public schools (and city colleges) coming up through the ranks of the P.E. department (better known as a 'good ol'-girl' network). Again: looking at the relative departmental salary expenditures may reveal 'cast in stone' issues that seem to discriminate unfairly.
Ira Sharenow July 22, 2012 at 10:10 PM
http://ausdk12.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=95891&type=d&pREC_ID=253036 http://ausdk12.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=92420&type=d&pREC_ID=173242 AUSD documents http://www.berkeleyfederationofteachers.org/ Berkeley teachers http://www.wccusd.net/site/default.aspx?PageID=1 West Contra Costa http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/ CDE data and statistics http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/ Many comparisons possible http://www.bls.gov/cpi/ http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.cta.org/ California Teachers Association http://www.calstrs.com/help/forms_publications/printed/TeachersRetirementLaw.pdf http://www.calstrs.com/help/forms_publications/printed/calstrs_overview.pdf http://www.calstrs.com/calculators/index.aspx Teachers retirement law and more http://www.cta.org/en/Issues-and-Action/Retirement/Where-We-Stand-Pensions.aspx CTA position on retirement benefits http://www.eiaonline.com/intercepts/2011/03/29/retired-teachers-in-california-earn-more-than-working-teachers-in-28-states/ Different opinion
Ira Sharenow July 23, 2012 at 02:17 AM
This is the kind of conversation I hope we can have on Albany Patch. http://lamorinda.patch.com/articles/letters-to-the-editor-the-pension-tsunami Here is another useful site. http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area Marla's compensation at $351,177 places her second for Bay Area school district employees in 2011, about $1,000 behind the Oakland superintendent, I believe. I think Oakland is somewhat bigger and more complex than AUSD. However, Marla's new contract may make her number one in the Bay Area. It looks like Laurie Harden is in sixth place in Alameda County..
Ira Sharenow August 20, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I look forward to seeing the research findings. In the meantime, here are some articles of general interest. The posting of these links is NOT an implied endorsement of the positions expressed at those web sites. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/bruni-teachers-on-the-defensive.html?ref=todayspaper http://www.alec.org/docs/17thReportCard/ALECs_17th_Report_Card.pdf http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Legislative_Exchange_Council
Ira Sharenow February 24, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Upcoming AUSDD tax proposals Conducting a Request for Proposal process will cause a delay into 2016 at which time a bond could be placed on the ballot concurrent with a parcel tax renewal at no additional cost to the district to hold a special election. The Board expressed concern about both the swift movement of this action and the need for community input. The following goals were identified by individual Board Members: President Black: 1) Setting priorities for how to spend new funds, reversing the process of cuts Member Maris: 3) Solve the structural budget problem caused by the State deferring payments (I believe he said something about dealing with the State legislature; Allan?) 4) Start a parcel tax study Member Low: 1) Long term financial planning for the district (once we see the January budget)….I would like to see us discuss priorities of where we want to restore quality of education that we once had if the financial situation looks good. The long term planning would include the integration of a facilities bond measure & parcel tax renewal. In the parcel tax renewal, I would like to have had stakeholder feedback about restoration of quality of education and priorities for what more we would like.
Ira Sharenow February 24, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Superintendent Stephenson noted that AUSD has a current bond capacity of approximately $12 million dollars It was noted that it appears that students are increasingly convinced that marijuana is not a problematic drug. It was noted that the number of students identified as marijuana users approaching that of Berkeley Unified School District. It was noted that the information regarding binge drinking is comparable to State rates. The Board noted an increase in the number of students reporting experience with various types of violence including seven percent of ninth grade students reporting bringing weapons to school. The definition of weapon was questioned. It was noted that the numbers are consistent with years past. http://ausdk12.org/ourpages/auto/2012/1/9/45597896/2-28-13%20BOE%20Agenda%20Packet%20-%20Special%20Meeting.pdf


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