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San Ysidro School District Teachers Strike

San Ysidro School District Teachers Strike

GUESTS

Antonio Martinez, vice president, school board for the San Ysidro School District

Jim Groth, member, Board of Directors for the California Teachers Association

The strike comes after last-minute negotiations with the school district failed to produce a new contract. Union members rejected an offer to raise pay by 2 percent and add five minutes to each school day.

Teachers in the San Ysidro School District went on strike Wednesday after last-minute negotiations with the school district failed to produce a new contract.

"Teachers are being forced to pay for the mistakes that our school board has been making all this time," said Ray Lozada who was one of 44 teachers striking Wednesday at Willow Elementary, the largest school in the San Ysidro district. Lozada is a seventh grade history teacher.

RELATED: Social media coverage of San Ysidro teachers strike

Officials with the district and San Ysidro Education Association, the union representing the district's more than 200 teachers, attempted to reach an agreement Tuesday, but union members ultimately rejected an offer to raise pay by 1.5 percent, while adding one day to the school year and an additional five minutes to each school day.

"It's not really an increase, you work more you get paid more," union President Carol Wallace told KFMB television.

Wallace said teachers want to be treated with respect.

Interim Superintendent George Cameron said low enrollment over the past few years has cost the district around $2.8 million in state aid.

The figure came from a fact-finding report released last month that stated district officials needed to reduce overall costs — including teacher salaries — by 8 percent "to get back to a sound financial footing." However, the report said that a 2 percent salary reduction would suffice.

The union has alleged that the district was hiding money so officials could "lowball" teachers during negotiations, according to the report.

"The key issue to this impasse is the financial ability of the district," officials noted in the report. "Complicating communications between the association and the district is the association's belief that the district misrepresents its financial position each year."

Union members countered that the district was left with more money than expected following the last academic year.

"The district clearly has the ability to pay the status quo and also has the ability to increase employee compensation," union members wrote in a dissenting opinion piece that accompanied the report. "To put it into perspective, a 1 percent increase to the salary schedule is only $181,000."

School board member Antonio Martinez told KPBS Wednesday that members of the school board will start to be more directly involved with the negotiating team. He said he hopes the school district will be back at the negotiating table, with the teachers' union, by the end of the week.

All district schools will be open during the strike. Pre-school and after-school programs should operate as usual, as should school bus service, Cameron told NBC7.

A special meeting of the San Ysidro School District Governing Board that was scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday at San Ysidro Middle School on Otay Mesa Road has been cancelled. The agenda included a vote on implementing a three-year contract with a 6.5 percent pay cut — of which 4.5 percent would be offset by grant funds, according to district documents. The next regular meeting of the school board was Thursday, but was postponed to Oct. 30 due to a lack of a quorum, according to the district. It will be held at the San Ysidro School District Education Center, 4350 Otay Mesa Road in San Ysidro.

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