Teachers’ pay varies widely with extra-curriculars


Sam Park, Staff Writer

The Bruin Voice would like to correct an error that appeared in its Oct. 31, 2014, issue. In the article entitled “Teachers’ pay varies widely with extra-curriculars,” it stated that Lisa Deeter’s and Ren Pham-Peck’s overtime hours came from one funding source: ASSETS.  Upon further examination of the timecards received from the FOIA request, the funding source breakdown is as follows:

Lisa DeeterTotal overtime hours for 2012-13: 875 (not 879) as cited.

ASSETS:           592 hours

PEI grant:        254 hours

Other:        29 hours (other includes Saturday school, substituting during prep period).

Ren Pham-Peck: Total overtime hours for 2012-13: 471

ASSETS:           278 hours

PEI grant:        193 hours


The Bruin Voice deeply regrets this error. (November 3, 2014)



Some staff are able to supplement salaries by over 25K

According to the San Joaquin Taxpayers Association’s 2013 Classroom Instructional Time and Salary Comparison report, Lodi Unified had the second highest average annual salary and benefits for a Step 10 teacher — steps are increments for teachers in salary based on years of experience — of the four largest districts in the county with an average of $66,847.

Stockton Unified teachers made an average of $67,050, Lincoln Unified teachers made an average of $66,318, and Manteca Unified teachers made an average of $65,027.

Teachers at Bear Creek earn a combined average salary and benefits of $73,181.09 each year — 12 percent more than Manteca Unified teachers — for teaching fewer instructional minutes.

“I think all teachers deserve to be compensated well for the job that they do,” Assistant Superintendent Dawn Vetica said. “Teachers’ salary and work day are a part of negotiations between the district and the union.”

However, the discrepancy between teachers’ salaries may raise questions for taxpayers.

“It doesn’t seem fair if [a teacher] is teaching more but getting paid less,” parent Judy Kim said. “It only makes sense that if [teachers] teach more, they get paid more; if they teach less, they get paid less.”

However, compensation is not that simple.

In Lodi Unified School District, certificated teachers are categorized in classes from A to F based on their number of units above a Bachelor’s Degree. For example, a teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree and no extra units is classified as a Class A teacher. Each increment of 15 units above a Bachelor’s Degree raises a teacher’s class by a letter; until the teacher proceeds to become a Class F — the highest class — teacher with 75 units above his/her Bachelor’s Degree.

Furthermore, within each class are steps that determine a teacher’s fixed salary. Steps are determined by the number of years a teacher has taught. Accordingly, Class A teachers can make up to $43,119 while a Class F teacher can make up to $81,100.

At Bear Creek, each teacher provides about 334 minutes of instructional time. But even amongst the Bear Creek teachers, there is a substantial difference among their salaries. For example, the total salary and benefit difference between a student’s first and third period teacher may be as much as $50,000.

“I guess it’s not fair [that some teachers make more than others], but it might depend on the way the teachers are teaching,” senior Niseth Hor said.

Hor is incorrect in his assumption. The reason for the difference lies not only in how many years of experience a teacher has, but also the number of units above a Bachelor’s Degree, as well as the teacher’s additional pay for extra-curricular activities and benefits they receive from the district. Many Bear Creek teachers instruct students after school by teaching adult school, tutoring, and coaching sports teams.

By doing so, some teachers and staff can supplement their salary by over $30,000.

To illustrate, both Conflict Mediator Lisa Deeter and Counselor Ren Pham-Peck, past administrators of ASSETs, are the highest paid teacher and non-teaching staff member at Bear Creek, with Deeter making $116,148.62 and Pham-Peck earning $126,379.59 in total compensation.

“We started the [ASSETs] program seven years ago because some Bear Creek students didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to go after school,” Pham-Peck said.

ASSETs offered activities such as tutoring services, credit recovery, homework assistance, sports/athlete academic support, intra murals, mentoring programs, SAT and AP testing preparation, job readiness classes, as well as leadership and entrepreneurial skills development classes. When the grant money used to fund ASSETs program ran out two years ago, Pham-Peck and Deeter applied for local funding through the district’s LCAP program.

“Our kids needed an after school program,” Pham-Peck said. “So with Ms. Deeter, we did a board presentation in front of the district and explained what our current program was about.”

Nationally recognized for best practices, Deeter and Pham-Peck were able to receive district funding to maintain the program. Thus, they changed the program’s name to After School Program, or ASP, this year.

“[As administrators], we do the same thing like what Mr. Atterberry does for Bear Creek,” Deeter said. “We deal with disciplinary problems, take and analyze attendance, write reports to the state, manage the budget, work with district for correct budget codes, counsel students, and supervise Club Bruin.”

According to the time cards received from Neil Young, Director of Personnel, under the Freedom of Information Act request, Deeter submitted 879 hours for ASSETs during the period from July 2012 to May 2013. At an hourly rate of $30.55, she earned $26,853.45 from the ASSETs program. Likewise, at an hourly rate of $57.07, Pham-Peck submitted 458.75 hours in overtime pay for ASSETs from July 2012 to May 2013 for a total of $26,180.86 in overtime compensation.

As the person in charge of adult school, special education teacher Long Nguyen is also one of the highest paid teachers at Bear Creek, earning $104,243.93 in salary and benefits. Nguyen declined to be interviewed for this story.

Although many teachers say they can justify their salaries through additional work they provide, there are efforts, especially in California, to overturn tenure — the automatic step/class rewards in the pay scale — because some people believe that the current system rewards mediocrity. One specific example is the recent California Supreme Court Vergara ruling which states that when job protections are based disproportionately on time served, teachers don’t adequately inspire and motivate.

However, the teacher unions are gearing up to fight and appeal the Vergara ruling, arguing that stripping teachers of their due process rights will not improve student learning.