Chula Vista Teacher Salary Negotiations Stalled Over Class-Size Issue
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Photo by Joe Hong
Salary negotiations between Chula Vista teachers and the school district are a standstill over the central issue of class sizes.
Teachers across the Chula Vista Elementary School District demonstrated on Wednesday after school in a walkout, protesting the district’s latest counteroffer to pay for salary and benefit increases by removing a cap on individual class size.
Right now, class sizes for grades 4 through 6 are capped at 31 students. Under the district's proposal, class sizes in these grades would have to average 31 students per site. However, individual classes could be larger.
“There’s no way we’re going to finance a pay increase for ourselves on the backs of our kids,” said Susan Skala, the president of Chula Vista Educators, the teachers union. “We’re hoping that the district will come to their senses and bring us an offer we can bring back to our members.”
In a statement, the district said the class size adjustments would be necessary to offset the cost of employee pensions and rising special education costs. The district expects to make $7 million in cuts for next year’s budget.
The district submitted the class size adjustments as part of a counteroffer that included a $1,000 increase for health benefits for teachers and a 2% salary increase. The teachers’ request was for a 3.75% salary increase.
While Skala says the district can afford the cuts with its $34 million reserve, district spokesman Anthony Millican said those funds need to be protected in anticipation of deficit spending in the coming years.
Teachers said less individual attention at the elementary level could have long-term consequences.
“In instruction alone, it’ll hurt in the primary grades in getting reading instruction,” said Meg Rabine, a teacher at Clear View Elementary School. “As far as upper grades, we’re working on social-emotional learning and the behavior of students, and that would be greatly impacted.”
The negotiations at the district will continue on Thursday.
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