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June 2017

Dear San Mateo and Foster City Community,

Spring has brought unexpected challenges to the San Mateo-Foster City School District.  Measure Y did not receive sufficient voter approval to renew the Measure A parcel tax, thus, resulting in a loss of $7 million annually.  In addition, revenue from the State is not keeping pace with the increased pension costs imposed by the State of California.  The District was recently informed of a loss of $2.4 million dollars of expected revenue due to insufficient property tax revenue.  With these losses, the District must now eliminate a structural deficit (on-going expenses greater than revenues). 
At school sites throughout the District, leaflets have been passed out and the San Mateo Daily Journal published an article on April 25, 2017 on negotiations titled Teachers Rally for Pay Hike.  The San Mateo Elementary Teachers Association (SMETA) has asked its membership to institute “Work to Rule” next week which is a practice by which members work only during their contracted hours. 
This letter is being sent to provide you with information regarding the fiscal situation and to assure you that the San Mateo–Foster City School District is committed to completing successful negotiations with both the San Mateo Elementary Teachers Association (SMETA) and the California School Employees Association (CSEA).
Questions have been asked about the use of District reserves to manage the on-going, structural deficit and increase employee compensation.  Much of the funding in the reserves is one-time funding and cannot support the on-going structural deficit.  The annual 10% reserve was established by Board Policy to cover the 3% State mandated reserve and provide 7% for economic downturn.
The District, SMETA and CSEA continue to engage in negotiations.  These negotiations are routine and can, at times, be lengthy.  Fortunately, while the term of SMETA’s current contract is three years and ended on June 2016, the agreements and protections of that contract continue to remain in place during successor agreement negotiations. 
The San Mateo–Foster City School District strives to maintain competitive compensation for all employees in our current high cost region.   The District and SMETA have met eleven times in this recent series of contract negotiations.  The teams have agreed to meet again on May 5 and May 22 to work toward finalizing a new agreement.
Recent employee compensation packages include:

  • 2012-2013 – 3% + 2% one time
  • 2013-2014 – 7%
  • 2014-2015 – 3% one time
  • 2015-2016 – 6.5%
  • 2016-2017 – In Negotiations 

As we work through this process, there are several important points to keep in mind:

  • One goal of negotiations is increased compensation for all staff.
  • The District has proposed a two year compensation package and is awaiting a response from SMETA at the next scheduled negotiations meeting in May.  
  • The District’s offer places our employees on par with comparably funded Districts in San Mateo County.
  • A fiscally sound budget spanning three years evidencing our ability to fund the compensation increase is required by the State of California.  State regulations require that we cannot offer compensation without the on-going revenue to support it. 

The District has made progress towards identifying cost reductions and will continue to make thoughtful decisions regarding the budget and negotiations.  A special Board study session has been scheduled for June 8 from 5:00 – 7:00pm at the District Office, 1170 Chess Drive, Foster City to discuss our recent parcel tax loss and the resulting structural budget deficit. 
Please join us on June 8 for this conversation and an opportunity to share your thoughts with the Board of Trustees.  It is only by working together that we will be able to effectively meet this challenge


Joan Rosas, Ed.D.