California Educator

October / November 2017

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Santa Rosa: Tentative Agreement After two years of fruitless contract talks, members of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association (SRTA) mobilized and reached a Sept. 6 tentative agreement with the 16,500-student Santa Rosa City Schools district for modest compensation increases and progress in addressing issues such as health benefits and class size reduction. " This tentative agreement is a step in the right direction, and something for the district and the union to build on," says Will Lyon, president of the nearly 1,000-member SRTA. "We have to work together to protect students by halting teacher turnover caused by educators leaving for districts with better medical benefits." Union members vote in October on the three-year contract settle- ment, reached with the help of a state-appointed neutral fact-finder. It would increase teacher health benefits by $1,000 total for soaring premiums at a time when educators routinely pay thousands out of pocket for coverage. Overall, it provides a 1.5 percent ongoing raise, and a one-time bonus of 0.5 percent for the 2016-17 school year. Get updates at Calaveras: Fighting for Smaller Class Size In September, Calaveras Unified Edu- cators Association (CUEA) members overwhelmingly voted to authorize the CUEA bargaining team to call a strike if necessary. CUEA has been fighting to lower class sizes, address school safety issues, and settle a fair contract. During the last negotiations, Calaveras Unified School District (CUSD) rejected teach- ers' proposal to develop a joint safety committee made up of management, teachers, school employees and parents. CUSD also proposed increasing class sizes for middle and high school students. " The district's refusal to prioritize our students has caused teacher morale to plummet, and has forced many of our teachers to leave our district," says CUEA President Lorraine Angel. " This has created an inability to attract and retain the best teach- ers for Calaveras students." CUSD has been struggling to fill open positions, relying on recent college graduates with no teach- ing experience, who are offered jobs as noncredentialed teachers if they enroll in expedited creden- tial programs. The latest CUSD records show that the district came in $2 million under budget and raised its reserves by $716,000 in the 2016-17 school year, bringing the reserve total to $4.8 million. " The district is in the best financial shape it has been in years," says Angel. "Now is the time that the school board must invest in our students." Williams: Going to Fact-Finding The Williams Teachers Association (WTA) filed an unfair practice charge on Sept. 14 against Williams Unified School District (WUSD) in Colusa County, contending WUSD is not bar- gaining in good faith and has interfered with the rights of W TA members. Teachers are angry that WUSD arbitrarily and unilaterally stopped paying stipends for extra- duty work, as outlined in the current contract. The contract provides stipends for teachers serv- ing as class advisers in grades 7-12. WTA members are also upset over the district's refusal to allow teacher input into the implemen- tation of a full-day kindergarten program for the 2017-18 school year. " Teachers know the best way to improve student learning," says WTA President Tony Hermann. "We want to negotiate the effects of the district's decisions." Despite the district receiving millions in new money from the state to provide a quality edu- cation to students, the school board offered no salary improvement to recruit and retain high-quality teachers. Meanwhile, Superintendent Edgar Lampkin, district managers and classified staff were offered a 3.4 percent salary hike. After failed mediation efforts, a state-appointed mediator has certified the parties to fact-finding, the next and final step in the negotiations pro- cess. Lack of a settlement after the fact-finding hearing will set the stage for a possible strike. By Cynthia Menzel, Mike Myslinski and Ed Sibby. #OurVoiceAtTheTable CUEA members hold a sign-making party the day before rallying and speaking to the CUSD school board. 51 O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 017 SRTA members pack an August school board meeting. Photo: Genevieve Lilligren

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