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Satisfaction lacking as Burbank Unified, local CSEA agree to 1% raise

Matt Hill Burbank Unified School District Superintendent listens to public comment during the Burban
Burbank Unified reached an agreement on Thursday with the Burbank chapter of the California School Employees Assn. for a 1% raise, retroactive to July 1, 2018. Supt. Matt Hill, above, was ‘embarrassed’ by the low amount of the increase.
(File Photo)

A salary increase that will affect approximately 856 Burbank Unified classified employees, such as custodians and office workers, was announced with shame and frustration by some school officials and met with disappointment from at least one employee during a school board meeting Thursday.

That night, local school personnel announced the district had reached an agreement with the Burbank chapter of the California School Employees Assn., CSEA, for a 1% raise, retroactive to July 1, 2018. The board voted 4-0 for approval, with board vice president Armond Aghakhanian absent.

“Our CSEA employees — our custodians, our office managers, cafeteria workers — they’re at minimum wage or barely above and, when we give them a 1% raise on $12 an hour, I’m embarrassed,” Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill said during the meeting.

Mary Hyman, president of the Burbank CSEA chapter, was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

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Along with the 1% hike, there were a few additional adjustments, such as a 1% increase in stipends and a $30 boost in the monthly bonuses for employees who have been employed with the district for at least 10 years, known as longevity pay.

Ten-year employees saw their bonus bump up to $115 monthly, while the total was $148 for 15 years, $197 for 20 years, $238 for 25 years and $277 for 30 years or more.

One change was in the bereavement policy, which previously allowed CSEA employees to take between five and seven days off, which was amended to now give members seven days.

While the pay increase was in line with a 1% raise granted to roughly 850 members of the Burbank Teachers Assn. this June, many CSEA members earn significantly less than teachers.

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According to district statistics, approximately 88 CSEA members, or nearly 10%, will see their salary hiked to $13 an hour and then slightly higher on Jan. 1 so the district will be compliant with California’s minimum-wage laws.

“Thank you for giving us a 1% raise,” said Roberto Villalta, a Jordan Middle School custodian with 20 years of experience, on Thursday in a statement dripping with sarcasm.

Villalta said he last spoke to the board three or four years ago to voice his concern the district had gone seven years without offering a raise.

“Let me tell you, my people are not so happy,” Villalta said. “As a district, you need to improve and pay our employees because the living cost increases every day, and I pay the same price like you pay for gas and meals.”

Board member Steve Ferguson acknowledged Villalta’s disappointment.

“To our custodial staff… we are failing our employees and there is nothing we can do sometimes because we can’t pay you,” he said.

Burbank Unified slashed a little over $3 million from its current school year budget that included cutbacks to district office staff, world language materials, intervention response and child care.

Even with the reductions, district staff is expecting expenditures to top revenues by $300,000 this school year.

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“We are extremely unhappy that we can’t provide what we should be providing, and we will continue to try to work to make that happen,” Roberta Reynolds, board president, said.

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