Teachers Rally


Teachers gather in front of the Santa Barbara Unified District building and in the boardroom to rally for higher pay. Many teachers also spoke at the board meeting that night.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting on April 11th, nearly 100 teachers from across Santa Barbara Unified School District came together to protest for higher wages and health insurance benefits. Over the past two years, many teachers have left from Santa Barbara Unified school district. Many of them left because wages for teachers were too low for the highly expensive living conditions in Santa Barbara. The SBTA’s (Santa Barbara Teachers Association) three-year contract with the district ends this year and negotiations for a new contract has begun.

Many teachers are concerned with living expenses in Santa Barbara increasing due to inflation while their salary stays the same. The yearly inflation rate is six percent and over three years the district has only offered an eight percent pay increase. In 2003 a new teacher’s salary was around $40,000 a year while rent for a one-bedroom apartment was at just $1,000 a month. Now in 2023, teachers’ salaries start at approximately $58,000 a year and a one-bedroom apartment costs approximately $2,600 a month. With inflation factored, that means that teachers are being paid less and it costs 160% more to live in this town.

Mr. Libheart, a special education teacher at San Marcos High School directed the protest and said, “The district had a nineteen percent budget surplus in November and most of their money comes from property taxes, they had an average four percent increase in income on property taxes. So when you have a nineteen percent budget surplus and you increase income by four percent just from property taxes, teachers took issue with being told that they were stuck at a two percent raise.”

Another ground on which teachers are protesting is the significant gap in wages between SBUSD teachers and teachers from neighboring districts. Teachers from Montecito Union Elementary, Cold Spring School, Goleta Union School District, and Hope School District make an additional nearly $25,000 per year on the high end of their pay scale.

In a statement SBUSD said, “The district acknowledges, however, the economic factors at play in our area (and much of California), as external forces beyond our control and our limited revenue resources continue to concern all employees. We also note that successor contract negotiations are approaching. We believe those negotiations are the appropriate forum in which to address these challenges and fiscal limitations.”

In a ParentSquare message sent out on April 14th, the district explained that they will continue to analyze the budget and are sure that both parties will work together to reach an acceptable agreement. Also that SBUSD and the SBTA are scheduled to negotiate salaries for the 2024-2025 school year. April 28th is the next SBTA negotiating session.