Contract Matters: Compensation in OUSD
Where are We Now?
How are teachers in Oakland paid?
OUSD’s teachers get paid based on a “step and column” system. Common throughout California, teachers move one vertical “step” on the salary scale for each year of experience. As teachers accumulate college credits, they can move across columns, which also increases salaries. You can find OUSD’s step-and-column chart here.
REGIONAL ANALYSIS: How does Oakland compensation (salaries and benefits) compare to neighboring school districts in Alameda County?
There are 16 unified school districts in Alameda County. These are the districts with which we compete for teachers. Of the 16 districts, seven do not offer any benefits packages. Usually, this is in exchange for higher teacher salaries (i.e., teachers in these districts receive higher salaries, but have to purchase their own insurance).
Because of this, it is hard to compare OUSD’s salary alone with these districts because the teachers are not being compensated in the same way. This does not mean that OUSD teachers should be penalized for their benefits package, but it is important to recognize that the money spent on these benefits is a key part of compensation – especially given the tumultuous national healthcare context.
Therefore, we created two separate comparisons: (1) comparing districts that use benefits as a part of teacher compensation; and (2) comparing all districts based on total compensation.
Salary data were pulled from the most recent publicly available contract for each district. Benefits data were pulled from the 2015-16 J-90 report from the California Dept. of Education.
The good news – Oakland has made progress in teacher salaries. Oakland also contributes about 42% more to healthcare benefits than the average of other districts that offer healthcare.
The bad news, as an Oakland teacher’s career progresses, their salary quickly drops to last and moves farther and farther away from the rest of the pack, arguably far enough for great healthcare benefits to stop outweighing the difference. To make matters more complicated, at mid-career (BA +60, step 10), when one might be deciding on how to grow in their practice, where to put down roots or to start a family, Oakland salaries are farthest away from our neighbors.
The current compensation package may not be enough of an incentive to stay teaching in Oakland. Healthcare benefits rank fourth in importance for millennials, while ranking opportunities for career progression and competitive salary as first and second most important.
As teachers in Oakland understand, resources are limited and bargaining is all about making choices about how to use those resources. Unfortunately, the district is not in the same financial place as when the last contract was bargained; supplementary funds from the Local Control Funding Formula are plateauing and we are experiencing a great budget deficit. Given this context, both the union and the district should continue to reach out to teachers and have difficult conversations about what to prioritize during the current bargaining period.
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