CUSD teachers plan to strike on Thursday

Update Tues. 10:21 p.m.: Sports and athletics have been pulled off the table and will remain in operation following discussion at a closed session meeting on Tuesday.  

The Calaveras Unified Educators’ Association announced that 138 teachers in the Calaveras Unified School District have agreed to strike starting Oct. 19, due to unresolved disputes concerning class sizes, school safety issues and salary.

Teachers will begin removing personal items from classrooms on Tuesday, Oct. 17 in preparation for Thursday’s strike. 

CUEA and CUSD have been negotiating since March of 2016 for a new contact but haven fallen short. In May 2017, during a state fact-finding hearing, a state-appointed chair of the hearing sided on behalf of the teachers’ union.

On June 6, the fact finder made recommendations that included class-size reduction, the development of a joint safety committee to oversee district-wide safety issues and the creation of a school safety plan. The fact finder also recommended salary raises of 4 percent in 2016-17 and 2.5 percent in 2017-18.

The recommendation was turned down by the district. Administrators have argued that any increase in salaries could potentially sink the district’s finances. 

According to the most recent negotiation documents, both sides came to an agreement on class-size reductions for Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes, but a disagreement remains on applicable hourly rate for class-size overages.

During the most recent negotiations on Sept. 27, the district’s formal position involved an ongoing 2 percent salary increase retroactive to 2016-17. The teachers proposed a 6.5 percent salary increase.

The teachers have long argued that salary raises would help retain qualified teachers in the district.

“The inability to keep parity means we are losing students to nearby districts and we are losing our educators that leave for better paying jobs,” said Angel in a press release. “CUSD needs to save our schools by investing in our kids and not the reserve.”

In a press release signed by Calaveras County Superintendent Mark Campbell, it’s stated that the “most significant gap appears to be with teacher compensation.”

“We have made an offer that we feel is as fair as our district can afford, given current and future conditions. Even with the current offer we have provided, we will still have to make additional budget reductions in order to submit an approved budget,” the press release read.

“We will continue to hope for the best. Remains open for direct dialogue and working towards a common resolution, while also preparing as best we can for the worst case scenario, so we can continue to serve and support our students, no matter the situation,” the press release continued.

The Calaveras Unified Educators Association released the following statement on Thursday: 

"We are going on strike because that is the only option we have left to save our schools," said CUEA President Lorraine Angel. "We're doing this from our heart. For our kids and for the future of this district. 

"What's truly tragic is that the district can more than afford our proposals. We've done our homework. If they couldn't afford it, we wouldn't propose it. Bottom line, if its not good for students, we're not going to do it. We wish CUSD felt the same way," she continues in a press release. 

The teachers will picket at eight different locations on Thursday and possibly Friday.

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