By Amelia Biscardi,
On Thursday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Davis Community Chambers, the Davis Joint Unified School District held a board meeting open to the public, where teachers, parents, community members and students crowded into the small room to both listen and voice their concerns.
Some guests were forced to wait in the hallway, listening to the meeting over loudspeakers.
To begin the meeting, Superintendent John Bowes, President Barbara Archer, Vice President Tom Adams, Student Representative William Ewens, and trustees Madhavi Sunder, Bob Poppenga and Alan Fernandes spoke of what they had done recently within the community and school district, and then recognized 10 Davis High students who qualified for National Merit Semifinalist status.
Afterwards, the microphone became open for public comment, and Jamie Kerr, a 6th grade teacher at Patwin Elementary, voiced her concerns over the DJUSD’s lack of care for the well being of teachers.
“When you undervalue teachers, our students suffer,” Kerr said.
One of the problems Kerr mentioned was that the housing prices in Davis do not match up with her teacher salary, forcing her to live in West Sacramento. Kerr also feels she must get married sooner than she planned because her fiance’s health care covers more than her current one with the school district.
Throughout the evening, this sentiment was echoed by many more teachers, parents, grandparents and concerned community members. They stressed that Davis is losing teachers and having trouble gaining quality ones with the district’s low teacher salary and lack of benefits compared to surrounding districts.
To show the school board the extent of their frustration, a representative from the Davis Teacher’s Association went up with a petition signed by 90 percent of the teachers in the DJUSD seeking fair payment and a quick resolution.
Moreover, 10 DJUSD parents made public comments on behalf of teachers.
One parent, a retired teacher from Vacaville, came holding a balloon with the numbers $43,298 on it, explaining that the sum was how much more money she made working in the Vacaville school district compared to what she would have made working in Davis schools.
Finally, the board handled social issues, including concerns that children are being treated differently because of their skin color, the world language program is not being as supported as it should be and teachers need training on how to treat young elementary age transgender students.