Teachers, district still negotiating contracts | SierraSun.com

Teachers, district still negotiating contracts

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Teacher contract negotiations for the 2006-07 school year are underway and after two separate meetings, negotiators from the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and the Tahoe Truckee Education Association remain stuck.

Teachers came to the table asking for a 7.5 percent cost of living adjustment last week, which the district agreed to match, so long as teachers were able to accept a number of contingencies, according to Erika Murphy, former president of the education association.

“The district’s proposals centered around the board’s goals to retain and recruit quality teachers, and to close the achievement gap,” said Superintendent Dennis Williams. “Those goals are really driving what we are trying to negotiate.”

One of the contingencies was that teachers agree to teach an additional 15 minutes per day in an effort to increase instructional time to help close the academic achievement gap between native English speakers and English learners and to increase test scores, according to school board member Bev Ducey.

The district also asked that teachers would teach all 182 scheduled school days. In the past, if students didn’t have to make up lost days, such as snow days, then teachers didn’t have to either, according to Williams.

“With us being in program improvement, there is just not enough time in the day to do the art, and the P.E., and the social science and the basic core subjects as well,” Williams said. “The teachers are saying that they don’t have enough time, and we thought that we needed to ask for the additional minutes. I am disappointed that that didn’t go through.”

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But teachers said that they didn’t quite see things the same way.

“Last spring we signed a memorandum of understanding that allowed the principals to take 49.5 hours already in our contract and do whatever they wanted with it,” Murphy said. “We already gave them collaboration time. If they want extra teaching time they need to figure out that they are going to need to cut other things.”

Teachers said that they were also surprised by new contract language that was presented to them with the offer because when the two negotiating teams sat down for the first time in June they agreed on contract language.

Because of confidentiality laws, sources on either side were unable to comment further.

The school district and the teachers association are scheduled give negotiations another go at the end of October when they meet with a state mediator.