Teachers at San Diego Unified and their district bosses agree on one thing: teachers and their support staff are among the lowest paid in the state.
Even so, the city’s largest district, with its $90 million budget deficit, may soon see staff salaries drop.
"But we're at a point that I think we need to do that in order to preserve the priorities that are really most important for our students," said San Diego Unified School Board president Richard Barrera.
Barrera is talking about a possible eight percent pay cut for teachers and all other employees.
A pay cut that was avoided last year, by the early retirement of one thousand employees, including 600 teachers.
“What we're asking our employees to do is to look seriously, at an across-the-board sacrifice that involves everybody from the lowest paid employees to the superintendent and everybody in between."
Teachers’ union president Camille Zombro, she said teachers have already made big sacrifices and pay cuts send the wrong message.
"The class size increases, the increased workload, we’ve already been taking a hit in our classrooms and more important, our students have been taking a hit,” Zombro said. “We have not been insulated from the economic crisis."
The union started a series of membership meetings Monday night to hear directly from union members but Zombro already knows that talk of pay cuts will be met with disappointment, even anger.
"Everything that happens to this profession that makes it seem unstable or that less desirable of a job, it's bad for kids and it's bad for public schools," she said.
Teachers in other districts have accepted salary cuts or unpaid work furloughs. Poway school teachers took a more than two percent pay cut last year.