Fresno Unified’s administration gave board trustees false information regarding teacher salaries, in a recent board communication. The board communication was in response to a trustee’s request for salary comparisons with local and regional school districts. This data is often used by board trustees in bargaining cycles to determine the district’s competitiveness with other school districts in recruiting and retaining quality educators.
In the publicly available document dated June 23, 2017, Fresno Unified CFO Ruthie Quinto accurately acknowledged to board trustees that Fresno Unified’s minimum teacher salary, $42,798, ranks the lowest when compared to local and regional school districts.
However, Quinto incorrectly informed the board trustees that Fresno Unified’s “maximum teacher salary ranks the highest,” when compared to local and regional school districts. According to the data provided by Quinto, the maximum teacher salary is $99,861. The actual maximum teacher salary for Fresno Unified teachers is $82,275.81, so how does one account for the $17,585.19 disparity? As they say, “the devil is in the details.”
The 2015-16 salary numbers listed in the board communication are from the education data website, ed-data.org. Ed-data.org is a third party website which aggregates information from the California Department of Education’s Salary and Benefits Schedule for Certificated Bargaining Units, also known as Form J-90. This document contains comprehensive information for each California school district including teacher salaries, administration salaries, health benefit, and over 100 other categories. So how does the CA Department of Education obtain this information? And why did they publish data that incorrectly shows that the maximum teacher salary for Fresno Unified teachers in 2015-16 was $99,981? Fresno Unified administration provided the CA Department of Education the information, as the CA Department of Education obtains its information directly from each school district. But where did Fresno Unified administration get the maximum teacher salary of $99,981 when the teacher salary schedule clearly states that it’s $82,275.81? Let’s keep digging.
Fresno Unified (district code #62166) told the CA Department of Education it has 20 separate salary column numbers. In actuality, the current salary schedule only has six. According to Fresno Unified’s submitted data, columns 1-6 are the regular teacher salary schedule for teachers working the typical 185-day school year. Columns 7-12 are the nurse salary schedules for credentialed nurses working the typical 185-day school year. Columns 13-18 are designated school teachers who work a 192-195-day school year. Columns 19-20 are JROTC teachers and/or teachers who work at Lori Ann Infant Center on a 200-218-day school year.
Fresno Unified erroneously calculated the $99,981 district maximum teacher salary based on a 218-day JROTC teacher with 15 years of service. Any calculation of maximum teacher salary which includes pay for days worked passed the typical 185-day school year serves only to inflate the district’s maximum teacher salary number. That’s why the CA Department of Education explicitly forbids it.
The CA Department of Education defines Highest Scheduled Salary Offered as:
The amount that is the maximum salary that would be paid to an employee from the certificated salary schedule. The amount indicated is the highest scheduled salary ONLY and DOES NOT include salaries for extended year, bonuses for special accomplishments or payment for extra-curricular services such as coaching, drama, or music. Bonuses for master’s or doctoral degrees are included only if the amounts are an integrated characteristic of a salary schedule column.
Even still, Fresno Unified chose to submit the inflated numbers to the CA Department of Education and has done so, starting with the 2013-14 school year. Fresno Unified administration also chose to provide this flawed data to board trustees, who are trying to compare Fresno Unified’s salary schedule to other local districts.
So, let’s compare the incorrect and correct data: Fresno Unified has the highest maximum teacher salary among local districts when using the incorrect data.
However, when the correct data is used, Fresno Unified drops to the lowest maximum teacher salary among local districts.
The numbers tell two entirely different stories and have the potential to influence the board trustees’ decision on the competitiveness to recruit and retain educators to Fresno Unified. In fact, the dramatic change begs the question: was this an honest mistake or an attempt to mislead board trustees?
- All the other school districts listed provided the correct salary information in their Form J-90 data.
- For a list of all the local salary schedules used in FTA’s comp. chart, click here.