Over 439 [Updated] people have signed a petition calling on the Tucson Unified School District administration to pay teachers their 301 performance money. Teachers organized and started the petition due to the fact that their Tucson Education Association representatives failed to act on their behalf.
While the teachers have been denied their monies, administrators have experienced salary increases every year, plus additional money for completing each year.
The petition reads in part:
In 2000, Arizona voters passed Proposition 301: Sales Tax for Education Act to reward teachers for the countless hours they invest in our children. However in the past five years, over 70% of the 301 Pay for Performance dollars has been withheld from TUSD teachers. Please sign this petition to let TUSD Leadership, the Governing Board, and TEA (the teachers’ union) know that you support teachers and want these tax dollars to be immediately disbursed to them.
Board members Dr. Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks have fought for the money to be properly paid to the teachers. However, under the leadership of board president Adelita Grijalva, Superintendent H.T. Sanchez has hoarded the money.
In their petition, the teachers ask as per “an amended 301 Pay for Performance Plan, TUSD must disburse the entire surplus with interest to eligible teachers and retirees in one lump sum by the end of the 2016-2017 academic school year. This is important to protect people from losing out on this money due to retirement or leave. Payouts must be based on each eligible teacher and retiree’s employment with the district during the years this funding was withheld. Disbursement must not be tied to current Pay for Performance requirements. Teachers and retirees fairly earned this money by fulfilling the set requirements years ago and therefore they must not be compelled to re-earn it.”
The petition provides space for comments. One former teacher wrote, “I taught for TUSD for 10 years (2006-2016). To find this out now, after I’ve separated from the district, is infuriating. Teachers’ trust of TUSD leadership has long been questionable at best. Leadership needs to do what’s right and pay teachers ALL the money they have earned. Maybe then that trust will begin to build. No wonder there is a teacher shortage in Tucson.”
Across the country there exists a teacher shortage. As a result, districts are now forced to compete for that precious resource. Due to mismanagement, TUSD has been unable to compete.
Betts Putnam Hidalgo, a TUSD parent and education activist told the ADI in an email, “When TUSD can find money year after year to support its administrators and yet nickles and dimes its teachers to death by forcing them to buy their own teaching materials, it shows its budget priorities. When it is given money BY THE TAXPAYERS that is meant to go to teacher performance pay, and instead uses the money for loans, it shows itself to be no more ethical than the State of Arizona, when it swept the 301 money and refused to pay it back. And TUSD wonders why those bond ideas don’t pass unanimously, and why those overrides end up unsupported? Taxpayers and supporters of public teachers don’t!”