California Educator

September 2015

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Bargaining Roundup See details of these stories at HUNDREDS MARCH FOR THEIR STUDENTS Val Verde educators and the Val Verde Unified School District (VVUSD) board are at impasse. The Val Verde Teachers Association (VVTA) represented its 800 educators in a mediation session in late August, during which more than 300 teachers participated in a rally and march. Teachers say the district's actions are making it hard to retain and attract highly qualified teachers needed to provide students with the excellent education they deserve. "It's difficult when teachers are not being valued by our district," said Kassandra Johnson, a Val Verde teacher who took part in the march. "Our community can't keep our quality educators when their compensation continues to drop." At a school board meeting on Sept. 1, VVTA President Albert Trudel urged the board to do the right thing: "Our interest … is to get the best teachers in our classrooms for our students. If we don't work on recruiting and retaining the best, we can't give the best education to our students." The district is offering a 3 percent raise. Last year it offered one- time bonus payments. VVTA is asking for a 7 percent raise so wages are competitive, and permanent future salary schedule increases. Because of low salaries, many leading local educators are moving to surrounding districts such as Moreno Valley and Riverside that offer better compensation. Trudel says that Val Verde teachers agreed to a 5 percent pay cut eight years ago, at a time when the district was in financial trouble. They've yet to catch up, he adds. The two sides were set to meet again on Sept. 9. TROUBLE IN PARADISE Teachers Association of Paradise (TAP) members, concerned that students are being shortchanged by the loss of educa- tors, are taking their worries to parents. "Like you, we care about our kids and about this community," says a flier that TAP distributed to parents. "We know the best way to improve is to put a quality teacher in the classroom. Help us prevent quality teachers from leaving Paradise." TAP says teachers must be paid a com- petitive salary. Since last June, Paradise students have lost 34 teachers. Twen- ty-four went to neighboring districts for better pay and more respectful working conditions, and 10 retired, many saying they left for the same reasons. The outgoing superintendent convinced the school board new money could not be used to retain quality teachers. But the California Department of Education recently clarified that LCAP funds can be used for teacher quality. The district's latest offer is 3 percent for 2014-15 and 4 percent for 2015-16, an increase of 1 percent over the previous offer for 2015-16. The next round of mediation is Sept. 23. AGREEMENT IN WESTMINSTER In August the Westminster Teachers Association reached a tentative agree- ment with the Westminster School District for the 2015-16 school year. High- lights include a provision for a five-year evaluation cycle for highly qualified teach- ers with 10 years of experience; time for professional learning communities and professional development; a 5 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2015; and credit for prior experience for salary schedules (including nurses). Teachers voted to ratify the agreement on Sept. 2. 39 V O LU M E 2 0 I S S U E 2 Advocacy

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