01/30/24 Newsletter: Budget Priorities

ACE Election Update

ACE is moving forward with an election of Officers, an Executive Board, and a Representative Council. ACE members are eligible to run for any position and vote for the candidates in their area, site, or job class. Those who become members also receive the rest of the ACE/CTA membership benefits. Members will receive a notice of the beginning of the nomination period tomorrow, January 31st. If you are a member and don’t receive a notice, please send an email to

What are our district’s budget priorities?

Between 2015-16 and 2022-23, the district got a raise of 63% to cover expenses for each year, but only increased the amount spent on educator salaries by 45%. The difference – around $30 million – was spent on other budget items, including adding to the already excessive reserves.

A budget shows us where an organization’s priorities are and how those priorities change over time. In the chart above we can see the growth of the expenditures in our district over the years. It’s hard to see, but the proportions of the budget items fluctuate each year. Let’s take a close look at the first and last year.

Between the years above1, we can see that the portions of the district’s budget changed, and while the overall amount spent on salaries increased, it became a smaller portion of the district’s whole budget. Employee Benefits and “Excess of Revenues” each took up larger portions of the budget. This difference in portions adds up to a lot: If the district’s budgets had maintained the same portion of the budget for salaries, it would be equivalent to $43 million this year – equal to an additional 375 APUs at current salary levels.

What does “Excess of Revenues” mean? This is the amount of the revenue that went unspent at the end of the year. Some of these revenues were restricted or committed to future costs, but the remainder went into reserves.

In fact, even if we calculate the district’s reserves the way the district admin calculates it2, they put 60 million unused dollars into the unassigned, unappropriated, unrestricted, and uncommitted account balance over that period of time. That means they could have spent the funds on anything but didn’t. 

The ratio of those reserves reported in the district’s budget went from 16% in 2015-16 to 20% in 2022-23. Because we are a growing district, we do need to add dollars to the reserves to maintain the same percentage, but the district could have spent an additional $25 million over the time period, and the reserve levels would have remained at 16%. 16% is well in excess of the state’s requirement of 2% and the CUSD board’s requirement of 10%. Averaged across the last 7 years, that is $3.5 million each year that could have been used to hire 30 APUs3.

This image shows an accumulated reserve of $25 million beyond the 2015-16 level of 16%. The apparent “dip” of reserves in 2021-22 is not due to the reserves being spent down, but due to a new assignment of funds called “Future Program Growth” that is removed from the unassigned reserves.

Why does our budget get spent on reserves instead of instruction and support?

In Clovis, we have not had the bargaining power of a strong and independent educators’ union to give us a real seat at the table where these decisions are made. Until we came together as ACE and partnered with CTA, we didn’t even have meaningful access to the information about our district’s finances or the state budget. We also didn’t have the ability to bargain our salaries through a written agreement and didn’t have the strength to hold the district accountable to their word. Without this check and balance, the district admin has prioritized the things that they prefer instead of what educators need. By simply not contributing to the reserves beyond the 16% levels back in 2015-16, we could have had an additional 30 teachers to support our students.

ACE stands for prioritizing education

In ACE, we believe that the core work of education is done by educators and believe that the priorities of the district should be to attract, retain, and develop the high-quality professional educators our students need and deserve. That is only accomplished when educators are empowered to work with the district administration on a level playing field and make sure that our professional perspective is heard and our classroom needs are met. 

We invite all Clovis educators to join us in learning the truth and standing up for ourselves, our students, and our schools. Use the link below to sign the ACE union support petition to allow us to achieve these priorities together.

  1. All information was taken from the Unaudited Actuals SACS reports that are available online at These years were selected due to being the oldest and most recent unaudited actuals available. ↩︎
  2. The amount of reserves can be calculated differently based on what you consider to be “reserves.” For this article, we’re using the calculations from the district’s own narrative budget report. In previous documents we’ve used the funds under, “Unrestricted Ending Balance,” which includes some committed and assigned items. Both calculations are, “correct,” but have different purposes. ↩︎
  3. 1 APU is equal to $114,945.11, the average cost of salary and benefits for a full-time teacher. ↩︎


What every educator should know before attending a potential disciplinary meeting with their administration.

We, the Association of Clovis Educators, are working diligently to establish member support throughout the district. We aim to stand in solidarity to address the pressing issues that matter most to us and our students.  As education advocates, our colleagues often call us to support them in meetings with management to address any issues affecting their employment. 

We understand how crucial it is to have a representative present when we are called into a meeting with school administration. Having a representative can impact the outcome of the meeting and ensure that your rights are protected. It’s always best practice to have someone with you who is knowledgeable about the school’s policies and procedures and who can help you navigate any potential issues that may arise during the meeting.

When preparing for a meeting, it’s essential to have a representative who is experienced in these types of situations. This individual should be familiar with the school’s policies, your rights as an educator, and relevant legal protections. They should also be someone who can remain calm and objective during the meeting but who can confidently advocate on your behalf. If you are an ACE/CTA member, you have access to representatives who are trained in these areas and can provide valuable guidance and support. You will have access to an attorney who focuses and specializes in labor and education law as the need arises.

After the meeting, it’s crucial to follow up in writing with the administration. This not only serves as a record of the meeting but also provides an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings or miscommunications that may have occurred. Your representative can help you draft a follow-up email or letter reiterating the key points discussed during the meeting. They can also help you identify any next steps that need to be taken and provide guidance on how to move forward. Remember, having a representative with you during a meeting can make all the difference in ensuring your voice is heard, and your rights are protected.

What we as educators need to know when going into a meeting with our administration.

Ask Questions:   

If you are told to attend a meeting with your supervisor or administrator, ask what the topic will be. You have the right to know in advance what will be discussed. If it sounds to you as if it might lead to discipline, contact ACE and ask for a representative to accompany you. Or, if you are in a meeting with your supervisor and the direction turns toward reprimand, say that you would like to reschedule the meeting to allow you to have a representative present. If the supervisor refuses, explain that you prefer not to answer questions but that you will if directly ordered to do so.

Know Your Rights to Representations:

As is the practice, you have the right to have a representative at any meeting or investigatory interview with a supervisor or administrator that you reasonably believe might lead to discipline. 

Your supervisor does not have to notify you of your right to representation — You Must Assert Your Rights to Representation

What Is Discipline?

Discipline might include a written reprimand, a demotion, an unpaid suspension from work, or termination. If you suspect a meeting could result in discipline, you should request representation, even if your admin says it isn’t disciplinary. 

To Assert Your Rights to Representation, Say: 

“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined, terminated, or could affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my representative be present.“

You, your representative, and the admin are equals in this discussion, and here are some important things to remember while meeting. 

  • It is the administration’s meeting to run.
  • Stick to the facts, ask clarifying questions to ensure you’re not being misinterpreted, and never lie.
  • It’s okay for you to object to abusive behavior. The meeting should remain professional, and in the interest of finding solutions, it is not to verbally abuse you or your representative. 
  • Do not resign! Resignation should be a last resort after you’re fully informed.
    • A decision as crucial as resigning from employment is a big one, and it should always be well thought out and not be made in haste.  ACE/CTA members have access to legal counsel to help them when they face termination or are being asked to resign. Always speak with a qualified legal professional before making a long-term decision that will have a lasting impact on your employment record.

In conclusion, as educators, it’s essential to understand that having a representative present during a meeting with school administration is not only your right, but it can also have a significant impact on the outcome of the meeting. By standing in solidarity with one another and having a knowledgeable and experienced representative by your side, you can ensure that your voice is heard, your rights are protected, and your concerns are addressed fairly and transparently. Remember, as members of the Association of Clovis Educators, we are committed to supporting one another and advocating for the rights of all educators. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help, and together, we can make a difference in the lives of our students and our community.

If you would like to know more about the rights, protections, and benefits of ACE/CTA membership, please contact us at

Having a representative present during a meeting with school administration can have a significant impact on the outcome of the meeting. Similarly, signing the union support petition is a way to have a representative for all educators who can advocate for our rights and work to create a fair and supportive working environment. By signing the petition, you’ll be joining your colleagues in calling for the right to organize and form a union, which will give us the power to negotiate for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. By standing together and having a knowledgeable and experienced representative by our side, we can ensure that our voices are heard and our concerns are addressed in a fair and transparent manner. We urge you to support this important effort by signing the petition today and encouraging your colleagues to do the same. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our students and our community.

With a union contract, we can have even stronger protections, such as negotiated language around fair transfers. The way to get a contract is for all educators to sign the union support petition.