About 80 teachers staged a rally Thursday night outside school board offices to show solidarity. They are urging members to reach a compromise on several key issues.
“Fair contract now, fair contract now,” was the chant heard often during the rally. It’s the simple demand from educators who are poised to walk the picket line, if a deal over salaries is not reached.
Earlier this year, San Ysidro Education Association members approved a strike. Since then, the union and the district have had months of contract talks, along with several sessions with a mediator. At issue have been 24 percent cuts to salaries, reductions in preparation time, overcrowded student learning sessions and tying evaluations to test scores.
“The school board needs to take us seriously,” said Patricia Manley, a special education teacher. “We are not their money pit. They want us to give them our money and all they want to do is spend it. They need to be more respectful.”
“They want to slice our paychecks from here to kingdom come,” said Jeffrey Scarlett, a fifth grade teacher. “They spent themselves into oblivion. They want us to pay. They just lost a $12 million lawsuit.”
Interim Superintendent George Cameron said the two sides are close in some areas, but far apart in others. His district is prepared to deal with a walk out.
“We hope that the teachers don’t strike. I don’t think it benefits anybody in the community,” said Cameron. “We have fully qualified substitutes ready to step in for us. It’s going to be business as usual in terms of our responsibility to continue to educate our students.”
During a board meeting, the teachers packed into an auditorium to show members they are united in their message to strike. If a state appointed fact finding neutral cannot help resolve their differences.
“We’re fired up,” said Scarlett. “We will walk. We are tired of the corruption and misspent money. We’ve had it.”
The mediator’s report is expected to be issued within a week. At that time, the teachers association will review it and then decide if they will go on strike.
School has been in session since July 23 and both sides are hoping to avoid a walkout.