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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 22nd, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 46

Santa Maria Joint Union High School District teachers picket over stalled contract negotiations

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM


CONTRACT NOW
Santa Maria Joint Union High School District teachers upset over the way contract negotiations are going picketed in front of the Ethel Pope Auditorium before the Jan. 15 school board meeting.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Babies, children, teachers, parents, and other community members joined forces on Jan. 15 to walk the block in front of Santa Maria High School holding up signs of dissatisfaction for all of Broadway Street’s evening commuters to see.

“We got some good signs up here for you guys,” Pioneer Valley High School science teacher Riccardo Magni told folks who were just arriving to the event.

Magni passed out posters that said things like “Your Children Deserve the Best” under the yellow glow of the Ethel Pope Auditorium’s outdoor lights, which had just come on.

Contract negotiations between the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District and its teachers’ association are reaching the year-and-a-half mark.

Faculty members have been without an official contract since the last one ended in 2011, and teachers haven’t had a raise in years. Association spokesperson Mark Goodman said the school board nixed the last deal both parties came to in December 2013. He’s upset that the district hired a negotiator in July, and said that the district wants to increase class sizes and change the makeup of various campus committees and faculty councils.

“I’m asking them to sit down with us and figure out a solution,” Goodman said. “We need to be able to talk freely.”

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Tracy Marsh said he’s not sure why teachers think the district wants to increase class sizes. In fact, he said the district is calling to reduce class sizes in the core subjects—math, science, and language arts—and is looking to potentially hire another 20 to 25 teachers.

Marsh added that changing the makeup of various campus or district committees is part of what’s laid out in the Local Control Funding Formula, which is the new funding program passed by the state Legislature in 2013.

“We have to have more parent involvement,” Marsh said. “Whether we want it or not, it’s part of the new funding formula.”

The last time both parties met in person was Dec. 6, and Marsh said the district left that meeting with the feeling that a deal was almost struck. The next meeting was scheduled for Dec. 19, but Marsh said the teachers’ association cancelled the meeting and had a conference call with the district’s negotiator instead.

Marsh said that according to data from the county superintendent’s office, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is competitive with other districts in terms of salary, benefits, and district contribution to those benefits. Included in the latest contract proposal from the district is a 4- percent raise for faculty, with a one-time 3-percent bonus. Also included is a proposal that would give teachers the option to teach an extra class period and make more money in the process.

“We’re still looking forward to bringing this to a close,” Marsh said. “We think what we’re offering is good … and that’s reflected, if you look at our proposals as a whole.”

Visit the district’s website, smjuhsd.k12.ca.us, to look at CTA Proposal 01-15-2014, which is listed under “QUICK LINKS” on the right-hand side of the page.