Stalled labor negotiations between teachers and the Redwood City Elementary School District has led to mediation with legal counsel to begin in mid-January.
In early November, both sides agreed to an impasse after the Redwood City Teachers’ Association and board failed to come to an agreement over a new contract. On Oct. 15, the union requested a 7 percent pay increase that could be spread out over two years, while the district countered with a 2 percent raise beginning on July 1, 2014. The district’s offer would include a one-time payment this year equal to 1 percent of salaries, according to the district.
Additionally, for the 2013-14 school year, the district offered a one-time 2.6 percent salary increase. This would be comprised of a 1 percent off-schedule bonus and a reduction of three workdays equivalent to a 1.6 percent salary increase, according to the district. Teachers in the district haven’t received a cost-of-living adjustment or across the board salary increase since the 2007-08 school year.
“It’s a misnomer the education funding crisis has ended,” said board Vice President Dennis McBride. “I’m appalled everyone thinks it’s over. I’m fine with the impasse because I believe a mediator will look at the financials and say there’s no money.”
The new Local Control Funding Formula sends $2.1 billion more to school districts that have high numbers of students from lower-income families, who have limited English proficiency or are foster children. The district receives $141 per pupil with the new formula, receiving $1.3 million total from the state incrementally, McBride said. There is still a $2.5 million deficit, he said. He notes the state owes the district $62 million, which he said he guarantees it won’t see with the new funding formula.
McBride said the district absolutely wants to give teachers, staff and administrators a raise, but it just doesn’t have the wherewithal. Currently, certified, credentialed teachers make from $45,495 starting to $84,938 annually.
“We are extremely frustrated that continuous budget cuts have put us in a position of not being able to raise salaries since 2007-08,” he said. “To put this in perspective, when I joined the board in 2003 we had 8,000 students and approximately $95 million today we have 9,000 students and $80 million.”
A mediator will be appointed from the California State Mediation Service to assist the union and district in resolving their differences. Mediation can last for one meeting or for months, at the complete discretion of the mediator. If mediation is unsuccessful and the mediator releases the parties, the next step is a fact finding process. If this too fails, there could be a strike.
Redwood City Teachers’ Association President Bret Baird could not be reached for comment.
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