Hundreds of Teachers Rally for Wage Increases in Downtown Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Unified teachers and supporters rally for higher wages in downtown Santa Barbara on February 13, 2024 (Photo: Tyler Tomblin)

Over 600 Santa Barbara teachers and supporters joined together Tuesday for a rally in support of increased wages for Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) educators.

The demonstration took place after 5:00 p.m. and included a march from the Unitarian Society at corner of Arrellaga and Santa Barbara Streets down eight blocks to the SBUSD headquarters.

A group of rally goers played drums and various musical instruments while others held signs stating “Fair Pay, Teachers Stay” and “Students Can’t Teach Themselves, Open Negotiations NOW!”

The Santa Barbara Teachers Association (SBTA) has been negotiating with the district since November until an impasse was declared last month.

SBUSD and SBTA have reached an agreement on all issues except for wages for all certificated staff (salary), and Hours and Conditions mostly related to special education. Mediation is the next step and the first session is scheduled for March.

Students throughout the district have walked out of class and held their own rallies in support of teachers. Local residents have posted signs in their front yards that read “We Stand with Santa Barbara Teachers.” SBTA created an online map that shows all the local businesses who are in support of their cause as well as an online toolkit for community members.

At school board meetings throughout the past few months, teachers have expressed feeling burned out and under appreciated, stating many have left the area because the salaries are not commensurate with living expenses.

Santa Barbara Unified teachers and supporters rally for higher wages in downtown Santa Barbara on February 13, 2024 (Photo: Tyler Tomblin)

“Educators aren’t being greedy or asking for too much. The raises SBTA asked for are in line with or less than what neighboring districts offer.” SBTA stated on social media. “Educators are saying there is a teacher retention crisis, more and more of us are leaving for better paying districts, more and more jobs are being left unfulfilled, and the district has the capacity to make the big changes needed to keep those of us that are left – but you can be sure the educator drain will continue if the district maintains its desire to underpay its workers.”

The group arrived at the district offices right before the 6:00 p.m. board meeting on Tuesday.

The mediation between SBUSD and SBTA is scheduled to begin on March 5.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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      • Neither transparent, nor California.

        “Transparent California” is just one of the many names used by the tax-exempt “free-market think tank” Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). NPRI refuses to divulge its own funding sources, stating, “NPRI respects the privacy of our donors, which includes the amount of a donor’s gift”.

        NPRI’s primary funding source, as determined by The Conservative Transparency Project, is Donors Capital Fund, a dark-money source of funding for conservative groups. Its donors also include The Cato Institute, co-founded by the Koch brothers, and organizations affiliated with the climate change denial movement.

        NPRI spends 75% of its revenue on six-figure salaries and benefits. Its goal is to undermine support for employee unions nationwide, thereby decreasing salaries and increasing corporate profits.

  1. Education in CA and SB has plenty of money coming in. The problem is that it’s going to the wrong people. The kids and teachers are the losers in the current situation. Time for a change. But hey, if folks keep electing the status quo around here and you’ll get the same.

    • So, if we stop voting for our Dem leaders, do you think the amount of money going to schools will be the same? Look at Republican states and how they compare to education funding. That won’t help.

      What elected officials need to be changed? Maldanado wasn’t elected.

        • Really? If we changed to a red state, we would have the same amount of money going to education? Not sure that’s a reality. Republican leaders, as evidenced by many sources, generally choose to spend less on education. It’s not ONLY from the coastal cities’ property tax.

          More importantly though, as to your comment….. what elected officials need to be changed?

    • Focusing on this matter – the teacher’s union endorsed board member, Virginia Alvarez. She was extremely teacher-centered. Once the rhetoric of the teachers became personal, Virginia opted to leave her non-paying board position. Sad.
      They also endorsed the board president, Wendy Sims Moten. Anyone they have endorsed in recent history has been elected.
      The fact is that the board is not really full of uncaring souls who don’t want to pay teacher’s their worth. They have a responsibility to manage a limited budget which they seem to be heeding in spite of the pressure on them. I’m certain there are some areas to trim the fat and I look forward to the findings of the fact-finding mediator. But I’m also certain there would still not be enough money unrestricted in the budget to pay teachers a wage to make living here affordable. So, I do disagree that there is ample funding. There is not especially considering the unfunded federal mandates in special education.

        • No laws were broken. Covid monies presented a unique scenario with a sudden influx of one-time monies to districts that was earmarked for specific uses. The law related to a 55% threshold for teacher salary expenditures was not written with Covid in mind and a waiver for exemption is allowed.
          Interestingly, 22% of unified districts across the state in 2021-22 did not meet the 55% threshold , but SBUSD did. However, in 2022-23, SBUSD did not meet the threshold and will be seeking a waiver. It is expected that many (emphasis on many) other local districts will do the same. The waiver is not due until September so we don’t know all of them yet, but SBUSD will not be alone.
          Their finance people also reported that they did not meet the threshold once many years ago. Historically, about 8-15% of districts don’t meet it each year, but the numbers will be much higher because of the covid funds. So, I would think it would be inaccurate to say that they have been doing this frequently.

          • The percentage of salaries going to teachers has steadily dropped. The % of the budget going to classroom teachers has been 55.89% (2019-20), 55.02% (20-21), 55.62% (21-22). Barely above the minimum. Neighboring districts pay about $20k more. 200 teachers have left in the last 2 years (27 at San Marcos alone). Many openings are STILL unfilled. (And the reserves keep growing every year!)

          • I have to say, I don’t understand how anyone can quote that 22% did not meet the threshold as being an indicator that SBUSD did a good job, when that means 78% of districts DID meet the threshold and had COVID dollars as well. We wouldn’t accept that as a good outcome for anything else. Our reading scores are better than that, and we don’t evaluate them as satisfactory. SBUSD has continuously underestimated how much money they would receive as revenue when they have negotiated contracts. The teachers have allowed this to happen for years mainly because we really didn’t know this was a thing. The real anger over the COVID money mistake has more to do with the realization of how much we have been underpaid for YEARS. So, although they have not had to complete a waiver “frequently” they have used the bare minimum % to budget when other districts did not. When those other districts received COVID monies, they didn’t have to apply for the waiver because it did not drop them under the minimum due to their consistent prioritization of I don’t think I can post graphs and charts of the underpayment (compared to other districts) , but they have been compiled and shared. Compared to other districts in our area, veteran teachers have been shorted thousands of dollars over their careers. No teacher is asking the district to be financially irresponsible. We won’t go on strike if the district can truly prove the money isn’t there. We have put our picket signs down in the past when they did this. We took furlough days and we mitigated the impacts of class size increases when there was such a budget situation. The outcries of teachers, and now our community, is more of a call to reprioritize because teachers are struggling and we can’t accept being underpaid anymore. We have a priority problem, and symptoms of that root problem are showing up in salary negotiations.

      • No one is accusing the board members of being soulless. I think teachers have more of an issue with the leadership at the district. Where the board is struggling is that they do not see all sides of the leadership because they only interact with the leadership in a certain context. However, if they don’t start asking some harder questions based on the outcomes, they will lose the trust of the teachers and the public. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. They are not getting the outcomes for the expenditures on consultants and many mistakes are being made. The board is the one who has to hold the leadership accountable for those mistakes. What we have heard from the board particularly in the press, is a great deal of excuses for things like high turn-over of management, a lack of improvement, and a staff that has had so many difficulties with general management of things like payroll, purchasing, etc., they no longer trust in the competency of the district. Because the board is not in the day-to-day, they don’t experience what teachers experience. When you don’t have the trust of the majority of your staff, not much is going to be accomplished. Most teachers, including myself, believe in the agenda and really want our leadership to succeed. It is harder to succeed when the district as a whole is struggling. The salary negotiations and how they have been handled have been indicators of possibly a “bad fit.” The board is responsible for seeing that and doing something about it.

  2. Great photos Tyler .. Wonderful to see strong support for our teachers. This top-down model really does not work for the students or the teachers. The only ones benefitting are the bloated salaries at the top. There is plenty of funds if they’s stop spending it on outside consultants . Vulnerable student groups are hurting the most with so many vacancies in special ed and para educators. On California Dashboard , only 13% were proficient in reading and only 11% in math, then in 11th grade only15% were proficient in reading and only 3.76% in math. English language learners, foster youth , students with socioeconomic hardship all have painfully low scores. With the chaos of teachers leaving it is unlikely many will catch up, particularly those whose parents don’t have the means to pay for private intensive intervention which cost 150. per hour and for some in secondary requires 4 hours a day , 5 days a week for 8 weeks in summer by an experienced reading interventionist who has 20 plus years experience.

    How about letting the whole community look at the budget. I would LOVE to know where it going. Also our community needs to demand transparency for the 20 million LCAP fund. I have asked for two FOI freedom of information reports but the district lawyers just delay and postpone. We need a local leader who has experience in excellence, like the principal at Peabody to take over. Soon it may be too late.

  3. Want to see the student group scores:

    So much chaos. Our teachers and students and community deserve so much better.
    We can go for 95% proficiency and 70% less students in special ed if we were proactive , used evidenced
    based practices and support our teachers and all staff. Other districts are working towards this. So much
    can be saved when we are proactive because less students languishing in the black hole of special ed which cost 4x more.

  4. The teachers should get paid and paid more for what they do. It is a hard job, and the most important one. They could be making more if not for the fiscal mismanagement of the politicians of California. For example- During the pandemic, California lost an estimated $32 billion to EDD fraud, according to NPR and other sources. 32 billion / 320k CA teachers = $100k per teacher- what a shame. The State is somehow running a $68 billion budget deficit. With some of the highest State Income taxes, property taxes (combined with the highest property values,) local state taxes in the nation, what is going on with in Sacramento that they cannot manage the taxpayers finances? New leadership all across CA is needed. Can you imagine how much money teachers could make if the Governor and politicians in Sacramento could get their fiscal act together with all of the revenue they have coming in? Teachers in CA could make very good salaries and be paid for their hard and valuable work. Fewer administrators (or moving the administrators into the classrooms to support teachers) and more pay for teachers would be a good start.

  5. Goleta is good: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all see the budget. Since we are basic aid it is heavily funded by property taxes. From what I can see there is plenty of monies. Positions like the COO who make upwards of 250 k for a position that never existed before are not needed in my opinion. How about the 10K for our Superintendent to get a coach to help her have better public relations.When I look at how LCAP is spent much of it is not in the “most effective” means as the law dictates. I have asked twice for Freedom of Information act but can’t get a complete accounting of LCAP from district attorneys or the district. As far as special ed, our district special ed students languish in a black hole of mediocrity. There scores are some of the lowest in the district, both in 4th and in 11th.

    I think we all deserve to see the budget. At least we can all see if it is being spent prudently which I highly doubt. Why is it only the SBTA and the district get to see how the budget is spent. It impact all of us. And transparency builds trust which is in short supply these days.

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