Stalemate: Teachers leave 12 percent pay raise offer on the table |

Stalemate: Teachers leave 12 percent pay raise offer on the table

Jennifer Goldsmith and David BunkerSierra Sun
Jenny Goldsmith/Sierra SunJon Halvorsen, Vice President of the Tahoe Truckee Education Association, teaches a computer application class on Thursday. "We are still willing to come back for more talks and made that clear at the end of last night," Halvorsen said after nearly 17 hours in negotiations with the district on Wednesday. "It is now up to the district to help pull this back together and help move us on the right track toward a more positive future."

After more than 16 hours of negotiations, the local teachers union did not accept a 12 percent salary increase offer made by the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District early Thursday morning.The districts offer was split into a series of 3 percent salary hikes which would have totaled a 3 percent raise for last year and a 9 percent increase for the current school year. Beginning teachers salaries would have started at $45,903, and the highest teachers salaries would have been capped at $90,574, if the offer had been accepted.We believe that our proposal is fair and equitable and are very disappointed that the [Tahoe Truckee Education Association] negotiation team did not accept it, the school board said in a prepared statement.But it wasnt a discrepancy in the 12 percent offer that had teachers union members requesting another mediation session, according to the Tahoe Truckee Education Association.Negotiations went astray at the last minute, Union Vice President Jon Halvorsen said. While the teachers were dotting the Is and crossing the Ts of what they thought would be an acceptable compromise, the district pulled the rug out from underneath the process by withdrawing a major component of the deal.That component was a 68 percent share from a charter schools reserve fund that would be allocated to the teachers on a one-time basis pending a contract resolution, Halvorsen said.The total amount in the reserve is approximately $2.5 million and if funds are not required for the Nevada County Office of Education or for the charter schools, 68 percent would be divided among teachers and the remaining 32 percent would be earmarked for the districts discretion, Halvorsen said.By pulling this bait and switch and then by attempting through public pressure to beat teachers into submission, the district is poisoning the waters of what could have been the start of an improved relationship, Halvorsen said, in a written statement. Instead, we have no deal, distrust and continued conflict.The school board, meanwhile, said they had been held their tongues on negotiations to help the process move along.My fellow trustees and I have consciously remained silent over the past months We did not want to pull the public and the students into a toxic war of words with the union. We continued to respect the negotiation process, hoping we could find a compromise that would demonstrate the value we place on our teachers, said Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District Board Member Bev Ducey.On Thursday, a California Teachers Association chapter services consultant resubmitted the school boards original proposal that included the charter school reserve fund agreement which the board had retracted around 12:20 a.m. in an attempt to clarify and bring closure to negotiations, Halvorsen said.Despite the impasse, the school district and teachers union are optimistic that salary negotiations will be settled soon.I think both sides came a long, long, long way, said district Superintendent Steve Jennings, adding that last nights proposal was about as high a pay raise as the district is likely to offer. I think that we feel like weve pretty much gone to the upper limits, but were still willing to discuss it, said Jennings.Both parties have agreed to meet again, but a date has yet to be scheduled and the teachers union is requesting a new mediator be brought in.Because it has gone on so long and there is such a contentious relationship, I think things are a little edgy, Jennings said Thursday.

Learn about the history of the teacher contract negotiations and share your opinions in our Fix the Schools! blog online at You’ll find an archive or past Sierra Sun stories about the negotiations, and you’ll have the opportunity to create your own blog entry and comment on those created by other folks.

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