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Teachers And District At Stalemate In National City Over Millions In Untapped Funds

The National City School District central office is shown, Feb. 15, 2018.

Photo by Megan Burks

Above: The National City School District central office is shown, Feb. 15, 2018.

National City School District teachers are expected to rally at a school board meeting later this month. The district and its teachers’ union have been at a stalemate in contract negotiations since mid-December.

The biggest contention: The district spent less than a third of the $10.5 million it budgeted for materials last year, according to numbers the district shared with union negotiators. Nearly 60 percent of teachers the union surveyed said they don’t have what they need to teach to Common Core standards three years after their implementation.

Jonathan Isaacs is a teacher at the Palmer Way School and said his colleagues are staying after class later than ever to craft lessons. He likened teaching to selling a car and said now, he’s also building the car.

“I need to go out and find the materials to make the car, so I’m also being an engineer and putting it all together just to be able to teach the kids,” Isaacs said. “It’s extremely exhausting. It’s seen in the classroom.”

Superintendent Leighangela Brady said the money for curriculum and supplies hasn’t disappeared; the district is saving it because it wants to get teacher input before making any purchases. Teachers on the committee that makes curriculum decisions recently stopped attending committee meetings in protest, saying they weren’t being heard by district officials.

Brady said that’s held up the district’s ability to purchase materials. She said the district is also trying to phase in the new curriculum at the request of teachers.

It’s bought a program called Rigorous Curriculum Design that functions as a framework for districts to fill in with personalized lessons. The math curriculum has been filled in, Brady said, but not yet English, social science and science.

“We are committed to supporting our teachers and working to address any needs brought forward,” she said in an email.

The union has been meeting with parents and is urging them to write letters to their school board representatives to push negotiations along. Members said they hope to deliver a pile of letters at the Feb. 28 school board meeting.

National City School District teachers are expected to rally at a school board meeting later this month. The district and its teachers’ union have been at a stalemate in contract negotiations since mid-December.

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