Campbell High School Teachers Say Ending One-time Bonus Represents Unfair Pay Cut

Controversy over a one-time bonus for Campbell high school teachers last year has led to a contract impasse this year.

Teachers at the six high schools in the district received a $5,000 one-time payment last year.

The Campbell High School Teachers Association wants that raise to be permanent, plus a permanent 4% increase for all teachers, approximately $8,700 per year.

The district has offered a permanent $5,000 raise plus an additional $500 one-time payment plus a $2,000 one-time retention stipend, a total increase of $7,500 increase.

Negotiators have declared contract talks at an impasse and have asked the Public Employees Review Board (PERB) to provide mediation in the hopes of coming to an agreement.

“The CUHSD Board is hopeful we can come to an agreement soon so we can get that extra money in the pockets of our teachers, but it is going to take both sides coming together in good faith,” board President Kalen Gallagher in a statement on the district’s website.

At a board meeting last week, “Ask me about my pay cut” pins were worn by approximately 50 teachers gathered in the meeting room to make their voices heard. The public comments were an impassioned plea to pay teachers what they were making last year and give them an additional raise to offset increased cost-of-living expenses.

Campbell teachers began the school year without the $5,000 added to last year’s salaries.

Nick Cortez, a bargaining chair for the teacher's union, said he was frustrated that the district would call the decrease in pay anything other than a pay cut.

“I mean, if you're getting paid one amount one year, and your pay goes down by $5,000, what else do you call that besides a pay cut?" Cortez said. "I don't know that you can call it anything else."

“These last two months, I had to make choices about hearing aids, physical devices, or, you know, or a couple of bills that are more discretionary," Tiffany Ylarregui, a teacher at Branham High School said. "I live in a home I cannot afford and it's not nice, it's a basic condo."

Surveys by the teachers' union found that 72 percent of teachers were considering leaving the district because of their frustrations with the board and lower pay than neighboring districts.

The starting salary for teachers is $59,537, lower than neighboring districts of similar size. The starting salary in the Los Gatos-Saratoga school district is $65,521; in Palo Alto Unified it's $71,484; at Santa Clara Unified it's $81,04 and in Mountain View-Los Altos, it's $88,066.

The Campbell district still sits above the statewide average for high school teachers and other school districts in less expensive parts of the county like Gilroy.

If a proposed parcel tax had been approved by voters, teachers would have received a $4,4000 to $8,000 increase to their salary. If it didn't, they would get a salary increase of at least $4,000.

Since the parcel tax, which was brought before voters two times in 2020, failed to get a super-majority vote, the two parties had to return to the negotiation table to agree on what that final year's salary would look like.

Since May, the two parties have gone back and forth and by September, the union felt as though negotiations were going nowhere, so they entered impasse. This means a third-party would act as a mediator so that a deal would be reached.

The union says the district has a $33 million reserve that could be used to pay for employee salaries. The union said this reserve has grown in recent years. In the 18/19 school year, the district had an excess of $18.3 million, the next year an additional $15.9 million and in the last school year a surplus of $23.8 million bringing the total to $48.6 million.

District Superintendent Robert Bravo said that reserves fluctuate every year like a sawtooth and last year the reserves jumped significantly because of COVID money from the state.

Projections provided to Bay City News showed that by the 2024-2025 school year, the district would run through its reserves fairly quickly and wouldn't be able to maintain the state-required reserve amount if the union's proposal was implemented.

A teacher at Prospect High School, Stephen Smith, who formerly served as the Vice President of the union asked the board, “Why is it that over the last few three years between three mediations and arbitrations combined, every time we've had an outside person come in here to talk about the differences that we had, when all has been said and done, they basically said, yeah, what (teachers) are asking for is reasonable do that.”

Other teachers were also frustrated last weekwith the district cutting training services for teachers, subscriptions to School Loop and other services while increasing the work required by teachers.

“I now have to attend a whole bunch of meetings that add about four days to our school year, but don't get paid for because they meetings are considered voluntary, even though we all are required to attend,” said Branham High School math teacher Donnetta Torrecillas.



  1. First Cut Waste in the system and return to teaching the basics that produce a successful, productive member of society.

    The U.S. Leads the world in K-12 Education Spending yet LAGS behind 25 other developed nations in K-12 student achievement.
    Looking at student scores in Reading, Math, and Science…U.S. student achievement Falls Far Behind – 26th overall, 17th in reading, 23rd in science, and 33rd in math.

    How about pay for performance? The return on investment for educating our children is a Severe Loss – hold School Administrators, Teachers Unions, Teachers and parents accountable.

    “investing more money into a failed system will simply produce a more expensive failed system.”

    Public schools spend on average 80% more per student than private schools.

    Despite POOR K-12 Public School student performance scores, the U.S. continues to Spend More than almost every other nation on this endeavor – over $720 billion annually.
    Taxpayer money funds nearly $15,000 per student per year in U.S. public schools… well above the global average of $10,759.

  2. WilliamA, The real ‘domestic terrorists’ seem to be the Teachers Unions with their influence on Public Elected Officials.

    But you have to give it to Teachers Unions – they are Very adept at Milking COVID to the detriment of children across CA and the USA.
    And it is almost impossible to fire a teacher for Any Reason – no matter how incompetent they are at turning out ‘educated’ students.

    The compelling argument is centered on the notion that to ‘Care About Children’ is to Spend More Money…

    …the Emotional Based Fallacy that more money will produce better results, however, often times results in the ‘Mo-Money’ fuels the School Bureaucracy as opposed to benefiting students.
    “…only 54% of every Public School dollar trickles down to teachers and students.”

    No wonder US students rank in the middle to lower half in math & science behind many other advanced industrial nations.

  3. WilliamA, I took the bait and looked up the school in the picture, another great job of photo pairing by the SJI web editor. (Maybe they were channeling FG when they chose the photo)
    ——————–Go Campbell High Cougars !—————
    Campbell High School is located in Litchfield, NEW HAMPSHIRE, United States.
    It is the only high school in the town, with a student population of approximately 550.
    Campbell High School
    1 Highlander Court,
    Litchfield, NH 03052
    Phone: 603-546-0300

  4. I got a good bonus many years ago when our company underwent a system conversion that necessitated parallel work reports for awhile. That got done and the next year I received no bonus. I didn’t consider going into my manager’s office and complain I got my pay cut. I mean, really?

    BTW, I knew MV-LA had the highest salaries, but surprised to see Santa Clara being significantly higher than Pali Alto.

  5. @XBR976, the article is missing a little context. CUHSD is fiscally conservative so they have been offering “off-schedule” pay. These weren’t really bonuses but alternatives to traditional pay in case tax revenue fell. The contract that expired guaranteed that this year’s contract would begin with a minimum of $4,000 on-schedule pay. Rather than choose in good faith to pay that agreed minimum, CUHSD decided to revert us to the pay scale that is three years old. Meaning most teachers saw $500 per month less than they did last year. Given rents in this valley, that is a significant amount.

    To put it in your context, imagine your boss told you before your system conversion that your were going to receive a bonus for running extra reports and a permanent pay raise after the conversion then, suddenly, didn’t pay you that permanent pay raise? I think anyone would storm into their manager’s office.

    Even worse, imagine that your manager was now saying that they couldn’t afford the raise they promised yet are making record “profits.” That’s the situation CUHSD teachers are in. Every budget cycle for the last 5 years has resulted in the district having reserves many multiples of state and trustee mandated minimums yet here we are, making less than we were told we were going to make this year. That is a pay cut any way you slice it.

  6. My wife taught at Branham HS. This year Branham was named a 2021 California Distinguished School – one of four in Santa Clara County.

    The district includes parts of Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga and San Jose. Try living in silicon Valley on 59k per year. Many new teachers come, get established, and then move on, of necessity.

    They are not overpaid. This article is right on.

  7. The better question is “Are teachers fairly compensated for the work that they do?” And I would say that there is no evidence presented in the article that they are NOT.

    There are complaints from teachers about their compensation, or the living standards they have, or their financial situation, but how is that germane to the actual question?

    If teachers are compensated fairly, it does NOT mean that every teacher is going to be content with their financial situation, not have to have a budget, or be able to live in a place that they consider “nice”. These are very subjective complaints and seem to be of a universal nature.
    If you were to survey the general public, including the private sector workers, I’m sure you could find many of the very same comments regarding their views on comp and their current level of satisfaction with their financial/living situation.

    So don’t be swayed by these distractions – stick to the question – Are teachers being fairly compensated for the work they are being asked to do?

    And as a final commentary – I’d just point out that in the real world, when people have extracted all of the remuneration they can from an organization and they remain unsatisfied, they have the personal ability to change that situation by seeking other employment. One thing I’ve never run across in the private sector is this sense of entitlement that your employer simply HAS to satisfy you completely. In the private sector, people seem to all grasp the concept that employment is a voluntary arrangement between two parties, and if one party finds the terms unacceptable they are free to terminate their employment and seek other employment.

    Why don’t teachers have this perspective? And, why does the public not hold them to the same standards as everyone else in our society? I don’t think creating privilege and special treatment for public servants is healthy, in fact I think it is outright dangerous, and leads to a bureaucratic leviathan that is inevitably superior to the people it serves. It creates a cadre of State elites, and that should scare us all.

  8. But you seem to be exaggerating to make your point. You’re referring to the starting salary – how many teachers are paid at only that level?

    And your wife is in a dual income family, so there’s that. A new teacher is more likely to have the expenses of a single person in a single-income situation. So really, you have to double that number to get a fair picture of what it takes to actually live in Silicon Valley. Plenty of people live fine on 120K in HHI, even for a family of 4.

    Its possible that $60K for a 9 month work year is indeed a fair and reasonable comp plan for a new employee with no prior experience in the field. But that isn’t the topic, is it?

    What is the average/median comp for teachers and is it fair? That is a better question.

  9. WilliamA, Some real Glitches in the SJI comments section – your previous reply to PH was deleted?

    If you want to see the “original’ picture with the NH Campbell HS – it still appears in search engines if you look at the “News” search section just search on “campbell high school teachers” .

    BTW – what is up with the Tajikistan spam that gets posted at 3:54am?

  10. How to fix education:
    1. Pay teachers more
    2. Make it easier to become a teacher
    3. Fire the bad teachers

    Interestingly, I had one of the teachers from this article as my math teacher when I was a sophomore in high school, and I recall her as being the one teacher I ever had who should have been fired. She exhibited alarming signs of mental instability, constantly veering off topic to tell outlandish stories about her life that were clearly not true, once having a bizarre one-sided conversation with herself out of nowhere in the middle of a lecture, leaving the whole class scared for what was happening before revealing that she had taken a call on a bluetooth earpiece. A couple years after I had her, I learned she had switched from math to special education, and I thought that was probably a better use for her – I was doing well in math every year up until her class, and that year was the first time I began to slip in my understanding of concepts. Soon after I saw she was in the newspaper for stabbing someone, and I assumed her teaching career was over. Now I read this report and realize not only is she still teaching, she’s back to math again!

  11. you people are such marks

    these teachers aren’t trying to educate your kids, you know that, right?

    they could care less if Johnny or Janie reads and writes, but those bonus checks better come every year, even if half the po kids drop out

    what do you think your public school educated kids are going to do to make a living, pay this $2500 rent, and ten percent sales tax?

    how can you keep voting and watch your kids’ lives being destroyed right under your nose by these “teachers”

    such a travesty yet you do nothing but what you’ve always done, bow down to your overloads and pay them bonuses

  12. I think teachers’ salaries should be raised. At the moment it is very difficult to return to the normal pace of life and learning after the pandemic, which is why students are increasingly using services similar to EduBirdie to write their papers and dissertations. Teachers find it very difficult to approach each student while maintaining their knowledge at a high level.

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