Schiavo issues statement in support of Saugus district teachers demanding more pay 

A group of demonstrators hold placards as they gather at the Saugus Union School District office in Valencia on Tuesday, 050724. Dan Watson/The Signal
A group of demonstrators hold placards as they gather at the Saugus Union School District office in Valencia on Tuesday, 050724. Dan Watson/The Signal

Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, issued a statement via a representative at Tuesday’s Saugus Union School District governing board meeting in support of teachers demanding more pay.  

In a prepared statement read by Rana Amet, a representative of Schiavo’s office, Schiavo said she is “writing in support of the teachers of Saugus Union School District in their efforts to negotiate a fair contract.”  

Teachers in the Saugus district, represented by the Saugus Teachers Association, have been openly demonstrating their displeasure at the last few board meetings over the lack of progress in agreeing on a new contract with the district. The current STA contract is set to expire at the end of June.  

“We know many in our community are struggling to make ends meet as the prices of gas, food, rent and school supplies have risen,” Amet read. “Teachers are suffering and many cannot afford rent, mortgages or groceries. Many are also working multiple jobs. As a state, we’ve invested in making sure our teachers receive cost-of-living increases to address these challenges. We know teachers in Santa Clarita Valley area are committed to providing quality education for our community because they could easily make more by simply driving down the road to (Los Angeles Unified School District) schools, where teachers have earned more for years.  

“While all other districts in the Santa Clarita Valley have come to agreements on responsible wage increases, Saugus has yet to respond to any teacher proposals,” Amet continued. “I respectfully request proposals from Saugus Teachers Association are met with respectful consideration and responses to their priorities. I know this is a hard year to look at increases when you are balancing many priorities. However, it’s critical that teachers are not on the bottom of the list when it comes to our investment in education. At the end of the day, without teachers, we have no schools.”  

Every school district across the state received funding via the 8.22% cost-of-living adjustment, a point that Schiavo, STA President Carleen Shute and other teachers spoke on during Tuesday’s meeting.  

According to Shute, the STA is asking for 3% salary increases, and negotiations with the district are set to resume next week.  

In response to the claim made by Schiavo that LAUSD teachers are paid more than Saugus district teachers, Nick Heinlein, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services, said LAUSD teachers work on a 204-day schedule, while Saugus only has 186 days on its schedule.  

“That’s typically the reason why those teachers get paid more,” Heinlein said. “Second, and I’ve said this before, we are the lowest-funded elementary district in the Santa Clarita Valley, but we have the highest average teacher pay of any of the other districts.”  

According to the salary schedule posted on the Saugus district’s website, the current starting salary for teachers with a bachelor’s degree is about $48,000, not including benefits, and can reach $66,000 over time. Teachers with a master’s or doctorate can start at about $61,000 and have the ability to increase that to more than $96,000.

LAUSD teachers with just a bachelor’s degree can currently start at about $64,000 and have the ability to increase that to nearly $74,000 over time, according to the salary schedule on the LAUSD website.  

Heinlein added that as salaries go up, so do benefits. He cited the California Public Employees Retirement System as a mandatory expense for the district for each classified employee, or any employee who does not require a certification to do their job.  

“And that’s a very expensive program, but we don’t really have an option there,” Heinlein said. “So when you look at like our average parent educator salary of like $23 an hour, the district’s also paying over $14 an hour in benefits.”  

According to Delmy Calderon, president of California School Employees Association Chapter 112, which represents Saugus district classified employees, the union was asking for 10% salary increases while the district countered on Thursday with 1% raises. That offer was not accepted and the two sides will meet again June 5.  

“This translates to 17 cents an hour for our lowest paid employees,” Calderon wrote in an email. “The amount per week would not be enough to pay for a gallon of milk. We are saddened by this offer.”  

Shute thanked Amet for speaking on behalf of Schiavo.  

“We want to thank (Schiavo) for sending her representative, Rana Amet, to remind our district that although there are cuts to all budget items, teachers’ welfare is and should remain a priority,” Shute said.  

Superintendent Colleen Hawkins, who was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, has previously stated that the district was waiting for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May Revise before extending formal offers to both unions.  

According to campaign contribution totals compiled by CalMatters, the California Teachers Association, which oversees all teachers’ unions in the state, has donated to Schiavo’s campaign three separate times. The CTA donated $9,700 twice ahead of the 2022 general election and then donated another $10,900 in December ahead of the March Primary. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS