AEA Outreach

Flyer from Informational Picket:

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        NEA       2329 SANTA CLARA AVE. #205 ~ ALAMEDA, CA 94501 ~ (510 521-3034


AEA T-Shirts Anyone?


Order one today for yourself, your spouse,

significant other, your children,

your friends, & show support!



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·       Color: Kelly Green ($$$)

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Talking Points:

Many have asked for talking points to be able to speak to friends, members of the public, or at service organizations; here is a list of “FAQ’s” for many of the relevant issues in the District at this moment.  Read them carefully and then contribute at public events/venues where it seems appropriate.  Thank you.

Dear Teachers,

As you meet with parents and community members, here are some talking points to help you answer questions about the District’s financial position.  This information may help you refute the District’s propaganda.


AUSD states there is no money.

AEA knows based on AUSD’s June 2011 state budget documents, that last year ended with $17.5 Million (this is before any money from Measure A has been collected).    According to the same document, this year’s ending reserve is projected to be $14.9 Million.  Most likely the administration will play the shell game to make it seem as if that $14.9 Million is allocated for other things.  We will not know the actual ending balance for this year until AUSD submits documents to the state in June 2012.  We have the funding currently to cover all present costs without even including the additional $5 Million per year that Measure A will generate when we begin collecting it.


AUSD states that mid year cuts will decimate our district.

AEA knows that the worst case scenario for mid year cuts will be around $2 Million.


AUSD says they are being financially responsible.

AEA knows that our district’s 3% reserve requirement is under $3 Million.  If we add potential mid year cuts, we would need $5 Million in reserve.  That leaves more than $9 Million unrestricted dollars.


AUSD states that the Superintendent gets step increases just like teachers.

AEA knows that there are many places on the teacher salary schedule where there are no steps for 4-7 years.  This is especially true for experienced teachers who have been here for more than 10 years.  Half of our teachers have worked here for more than 10 years.  When teachers do get a step, it is 2% or less, and is never 3% or every year like the Superintendent and Executive Cabinet.


AUSD states there is no money for salary increases.

AEA knows a beginning teacher’s salary would be eligible for food stamps if they have a family of more than four.  In addition, Alameda teachers continue to be second to lowest paid (15 out of 16) in Alameda County even though Alameda is one of the most expensive places to live.  A 1% raise for all teachers equals approximately $360,000.


AUSD states that full health care for teachers would cost between $6 Million and $13 Million per year.  

AEA knows that when we use the actual numbers provided by the District, the total change in health care cost to AUSD would be $2,111,544.  


AUSD states they can not afford 20:1 in K-3 so they want permanent 25:1.

AEA knows that on the AUSD website it says that 20:1 in K-3 costs $500,000 more than 25:1.  The community has expressed time and again that they want to have small classes. 


AUSD states that even with the parcel tax, there is no money for teachers.

AEA knows that Measure A explicitly states that a portion of the parcel tax is to “attract and retain” highly qualified teachers.


AUSD states that 180 students would be diverted from their schools if we return to 20:1 in K-3.

AEA knows that according to student numbers provided by AUSD, a class size maximum of 22:1 would only mean adding a total of nine teachers to our District to avoid diverting ANY children.  In addition, almost every class in K-3 (with the exception of two classes) would have a few extra seats, bringing many classes down to 20:1 or even smaller, without diverting ANY students. 


AUSD states that paying heath care for teachers is too much money.

AEA knows that the difference in cost between what the District pays for health care now and what they would pay if the covered the employee’s contribution is approximately $2.1 million.  This includes the increase to health care coming in January.  Employee plus family will now cost $14,172 out of pocket for Blue Shield and $11,028 for Kaiser.  The Superintendent pays nothing for health care.  Due to the rising health care costs, a teacher who was in his 15th year of teaching in 2004 (who would now be in his 23rd year of teaching) only brings home an additional $24 per month with 9 more years of experience.  If we had hired a 7th year teacher in 2004, that teacher would have brought home $6,000 more dollars than a 7th year teacher hired today.  A teacher who was in her first year in 2004 would now be in her 9th year.  She would have brought home more money when she had been teaching for 6 years than she does now. 


AUSD continues to state that there is no money.

AEA knows that the Superintendent gets a 3% annual pay increase, FULL Health care, and $15,000 bonus pay.  In addition, it might be of interest to  you that Hayward Unified just hired a new Superintendent. His name is Donald Evans, he has no prior experience as a Superintendent, just like
Kirsten Vital, and his salary is $229,000/year. He has a 3-year contract (as opposed to Vital’s 4), and while there is language ALLOWING the Board to raise his salary, pay raises are not written-in as they are in Vital’s. There’s no annual bonus, and he gets 24 vacation days to Vital’s 30 (and unlike her, he can NOT “cash out” unused vacation days) and 12 sick days to her 20. AND: he gets NO health benefits, while hers are 100% covered.  In other words: she has a WAY better deal than he does.

 Just for reference:  Hayward Unified has over 20,000 students in 30 schools (21 elementary, 5 middle, 3 high schools, alternative school).  AUSD has fewer than 10,000 students with about half as many school sites.


AUSD said that there wasn’t any money last year, so they needed furloughs.

AEA knows that teachers sacrificed 8 furlough days, which is 4.4% of a teacher’s salary.  This saved the District approximately $1.6 Million.  The students lost over a week of valuable instructional minutes.  This happened while the Executive Cabinet extended their work year.  By extending the work year, each day became less of a percentage, which made their 8 day loss only 3%.


AUSD continues to state that there is no money.

AEA knows that we are the only district in the area with a full time lawyer on staff who makes $151,000 base salary with annual 3% increases.  11 surrounding districts, including Fremont (with 32,000 students) do not have a lawyer.  Oakland (with 38,000 students) is the one exception.  Oakland is where our Superintendent and lawyer last worked.  New this year is the lawyer’s full time assistant who is paid in the salary range of a teacher with 10-15 years experience.


AUSD states there will be a volunteer Open House.

AEA knows that our contract says “Open House is Cancelled”.


Where is the fiscal responsibility when it comes to the Superintendent’s perceived needs and wants?  Where is the student value in these excessive expenditures?



2004-2007 = 6

2008-2011 = 38


Alameda Community News Project

Alameda, reported. Tell us more at

Teachers struggle with rising health coverage costs

Michele Ellson
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 22:25

Carolyn Cover-Griffith leafs through a pile of old paycheck stubs to offer a sense of how her health care costs have increased over the past few years. In 2009, she was paying $790 a month for healthcare coverage for her family. This year, her payment for her family’s Blue Shield plan is nearly $1,200 a month.

Despite the cost, which the Alameda High School AP Environmental Science teacher said has eroded her take-home pay by more than $70 a month over the past three years, Cover-Griffith said she is staying on the district’s health care plan. She’s been battling cancer since 2006, and fears she could lose her doctors – or her coverage – if she opts for another plan.

“I can’t mess around,” Cover-Griffith said of her health coverage.

Alameda’s teachers are negotiating a new contract with the school district, and health care is a key issue. Both the teachers union and the district have said they’d like to discuss teacher health care, though neither has offered a specific proposal for the current round of negotiations.

The union in November asked for full health benefits, which Superintendent Kirsten Vital received when her contract was renewed in August – a sore point for teachers who have complained about their rising benefit costs. But district officials rejected the proposal as too expensive.

Alameda Education Association president Gray Harris said teachers’ health care costs have risen 50 percent over the past three years, while the district’s payments have remained the same. Rising health care costs have outstripped pay increases earned by new and experienced teachers alike, Harris said.

“I know that health care is expensive for everyone,” Harris said. “But when you think about the fact that you could work for eight more years and make the same amount of money … People just end up bringing home less and less money the longer they work.”

Vital acknowledged teachers’ health care costs are high, though she hasn’t said whether the district plans to contribute more. She and Chief Business Officer Robert Shemwell said the district is working with a contractor to determine whether there’s a way to obtain cheaper coverage.

“At that point, it really starts to become a discussion collectively between the district and the bargaining units about what that looks like,” Shemwell said.

The district’s health care contributions haven’t risen since 2008, when the district’s monthly benefit contribution increased by $81, to $667.28. Teachers signed a memorandum of understanding with the district in 2009 that largely maintained the status quo in order to focus on passing a parcel tax; it didn’t change teachers’ health benefits.

Alameda Unified’s health care costs outstrip national averages, as do the premium contributions teachers make, according to a 2011 survey of public and private employers conducted by The Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. That survey found average annual premiums for employers who offer health care plans to be $15,073 for a family plan, compared to $17,578.08 for the cheapest of the four plans offered to teachers in Alameda Unified.

Average employee contributions for health care in 2011 were 28 percent of the total cost for family coverage, the study showed, while Alameda’s teachers paid 55 percent of the total cost for the cheapest family plan offered by the district and 71 percent for its most expensive.

In California, 63 percent of employers provided health coverage in 2011, according to a separate study from the California HealthCare Foundation. The average employer contribution was $11,921 for family coverage, compared to $8,007.36 in Alameda Unified.

The district also offers $305 a month to teachers who don’t sign up for district health coverage, Shemwell said.

School districts in Alameda County are all over the map in terms of the benefits they offer teachers, with Albany Unified offering its teachers full medical coverage and several other districts giving teachers more pay in lieu of separate benefit coverage and offering medical insurance through a Section 125 plan, which allows employees to make health care contributions pre-tax.

The union has criticized the district for maintaining millions in reserves instead of giving teachers more money, but Shemwell has argued the reserve is needed to protect the district in the face of unpredictable state funding. He said he thinks that even with the growing costs, teachers here may benefit from the district’s plan when compared to their counterparts in other districts whose benefits are covered by higher salaries.

“When you put all your health benefits on the salary schedule and you have eight furlough days, you are losing salary that probably contributed to your health benefits in some way,” Shemwell said.

But Harris said Alameda teachers are particularly hard-hit by high health care costs because they are trying to absorb them while earning some of the lowest salaries in the county. Even after benefits are added, Alameda Unified’s total compensation package puts teachers here below their peers in most of the rest of the county, a chart produced by the California Teachers Association showed.

A separate chart produced by Harris showed that an Alameda teacher with 20 years’ experience and a bachelor’s degree in 2009 took home $63,352 after paying for Blue Shield health care coverage for a family, and $60,175 this year, even with pay increases for experience. Teachers with just seven years’ experience in 2012 – whose health care costs are the same as those of more experienced teachers – saw their earnings drop to $44,585 after paying for benefits, compared to $49,281 for a teacher with seven years’ experience in 2009.

The rising costs are a tough pill for even longtime teachers to swallow. Cover-Griffith, who has been at Alameda High since 2000, said she’s embarrassed to say how much money she takes home every month. She has a doctorate in molecular biology and said that while she loves teaching, she wonders if should have considered a higher-paying career.

“Oh teachers, they do it for the love of the kids,” is a refrain Cover-Griffith said she often hears. “But I’d like to pay my bills.”


Letter from AEA to Community about Open House
Gray Harris is the president of the Alameda Education Association.

February 9, 2012   Email Print  65 Comments    
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Dear Alameda Community:

We would like to share the truth about the current situation around Open House and the school calendar.

Open House: The Alameda Unified School District believes they are above the law and the contracts they have agreed to. The District agreed that Open House was not to be scheduled in accordance with the teacher’s contract. Whether the District wants to admit it or not, the teacher’s contract states “Open House is cancelled."

A contract is an agreement between the Alameda Education Association (AEA) and AUSD and has never been a demand made by AEA. It is disappointing that this district presumes it can pick and choose when and where to honor its commitments. This has become yet another example of AUSD’s bad faith and disrespect of employees.

Calendar: It has come to our attention that there will be a discussion of next year’s school calendar at the Feb. 14 Board of Education meeting. AEA would like everyone to know that we brought two years of calendar to negotiations last week in an attempt to prevent these late calendar releases that impact families and staff. The District refused to take or read the proposal that was physically on the table. Article 8 of the teacher’s contract includes many things like working hours, faculty meetings, and the calendar.

Here are the calendars from AEA’s Article 8 (2/2/12) proposal. [Click on the document to the right.]

Thank you for your interest in Alameda’s schools. If you have any questions,  please feel free to contact AEA.


Gray Harris
Alameda Education Association President
(510) 521-3034
Facebook: Alameda Education Association


School District Could Pay Teachers Better
Carolyn Cover Griffith, Ph.D.

I have been a teacher at Alameda High School teaching Avanced Placement Environmental Science since 2000. I earned my Ph.D. in molecular biology and found that high school was the perfect place for me. It is the time that many students decide their careers and I wanted to share the passion that I have for science with the next generation. I chose to teach knowing that I would never become rich.

This month, my health insurance deduction from my monthly paycheck increased from $1,089.05 to $1,181.58. The district’s contribution has not increased for many years and remains $667.28. For me, this was essentially a $73.24 a month cut to my take-home pay, not to mention the fact that my prescription costs also went up. Last year, health care increased $100 per month. Due to these constant increases in my out of pocket cost, I now take home $71.50 less each month than I did two years ago. I have no reason to believe that my health care costs will not rise again next year.

I am concerned because I might not have entered the teaching profession if I knew the extent of the fi nancial sacrifi ce that I would endure. I am concerned that new teachers will see how teachers are currently being treated and never start their careers. My own sons may miss out on a great teacher because that teacher might never start teaching.

I work with new teachers from credential programs and it breaks my heart to see their enthusiasm for their craft when I consider that they may someday doubt their decision as well.

I wonder, will their salaries be enough for them to be able to pay their bills or to send their own kids to college?

The Alameda Unifi ed School District could choose to pay teachers more money. It would make a difference for the future of education.

Carolyn Cover Griffi th, Ph.D is a teacher in the Alameda Unifi ed School District.


Put this in your car, in your house window.


Teachers please print and give one these signs to a parent, friend, or neighbor.  Thanks!

Parents please feel free to put this sign in your car or in a window at your home.  Thanks.!


Talking Points you can use:


Here's one letter to the editor you can use.


Seasons Greetings to Ms. Vital


Your AEA during the holiday season. 

Your AEA durinand the Holidays