Saturday, July 13, 2024

CUSD Update: Budget Deficit Looms as Board Approves 2.5% Pay Increase for Superintendent; Teachers Ask for 10%

The trustees of the Coronado Unified School District voted to approve a 2.5% pay increase for Superintendent Karl Mueller and Deputy District Superintendent Donnie Salamanca, raising their salaries to $253,753 and $218,530, respectively. The pay increases were recommended at the June 20 board meeting in closed session, shortly after a representative from the Association of Coronado Teachers (ACT) asked the trustees to rethink any salary boosts for school administrators.

The district is currently facing a $2.3 million budget shortfall and has already cut several teachers and counselors, citing declining enrollment, exhausted COVID funds and a decrease in the state Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). Meanwhile, CUSD teachers are asking for a 10% pay raise, rejecting a previous increase of 4%.

“Negotiations between ACT and CUSD are ongoing and nothing has been agreed upon,” said Katie Quinley, who spoke as a member of ACT. “We hope that you will prioritize teachers who are closest to the students when considering administrator evaluations, salary increases, and finalizing our negotiations.”

A member of the Association of Coronado Teachers asked the district to reconsider any salary increases for administration while the teacher negotiations continue.

The trustees said that the 2.5% pay increase is built into both Mueller and Salamanca’s contracts, and is standard for getting a satisfactory evaluation. Trustee Antrim said the pair are instrumental in the district’s success.

“We’re on a Walmart budget but we’re providing a Nordstrom education,” said Antrim. “Our kids are consistently testing at the top of the county and performing and going to great universities…what these two have done with our Walmart budget is very worthy of recognition.”

The trustees also approved the Portrait of a Graduate project, a newly-released guiding document designed to be the public facing “North Star” of the district, representing community aspirations for district children. The document, which was funded with a grant, incorporated voices and input from the entire community, according to Mueller.

“This has been a year-long process,” said Mueller. “It has solicited feedback and input from tens of thousands of data points.”

Trustee Renee Cavanaugh thanked all who contributed to the project and called it a wonderful way to guide the district in the future.

“I think one of the things I noticed is that is really far-reaching, there are a lot of shifts that have to take place,” said Cavanaugh. “And I think it’s important for people to realize this isn’t taking the place for standards and skills that we expect at grade levels, this is in addition to and above and beyond the skills that they will need.”

Trustee Mal Sandie said that the document was fun, thought-provoking and really brought the community together. Antrim said it will really help the district evolve.

“It’s exciting, and it’s bold, and the world doesn’t look like it did 50 years ago, and our schools shouldn’t either,” said Antrim. “If we are going to prepare our students for the world then we have to evolve as well.”

Earlier in the meeting, a director from the Coronado School of the Arts (CoSA) Foundation, Marnie Herndon, presented the district with a $150,000 check as a result of its fundraising efforts. She shared that CoSA is welcoming 60 new students, and increasing the CoSA community by 113%.

Marnie Herndon, a representative from the board of Coronado School of the Arts, presents the district with a check for $150,000.

In other board business, the trustees approved the 2024-2025 budget, which shows the district in the red by the 2026-2027 school year with a projected negative balance of $0.7 million in reserves. The district anticipates turning into a Basic Aid district by the 2027-2028 school year, whereby the schools will be fully-funded by local property taxes. According to Salamanca, the district will then see ongoing increase in revenues from $8 to $12 million.

This chart shows the multi-year projections for the CUSD budget.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will take place on Thursday, August 22, which is also the first day of school.


Christine Van Tuyl
Christine Van Tuyl
Christine was born and raised in Texas, but moved to Coronado with her family as a teen in 1993. Although initially horrified by surfers, flannels and skateboards, she ultimately grew to love all things So-Cal. A graduate of UCSD, Christine got her first writing job on the KUSI ten o’clock news while simultaneously juggling a reporter position at the San Diego Community News Group. She worked as a public relations professional, a book editor, real estate professional, and a freelance writer before eventually succumbing to motherhood in 2008.A decade later, Christine resurfaced to start the Island Girl Blog, a Coronado lifestyle blog. In addition, she writes a monthly page for Crown City Magazine. Christine loves hanging out with her husband, Ian, and their two spirited daughters, Holland and Marley, who attend Village Elementary and Coronado Middle School. When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga, spilling coffee at school drop off, meeting friends for sushi, or sailing the Bay with her family and English Bulldog, Moshi. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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