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Teachers plan picket line at district office

SHERRY MAYS, Sierra Sun

Teachers from the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District are not backing down in their salary negotiations with district officials and today’s picket is another sign of the their frustrations.

“Depending on the outcome of the mediation, we are going to picket all day,” teacher negotiator Irene Baker said. The demonstration is planned for the front of the district office on Donner Pass Road.

She said the problems with the district have been public awareness of the funds the district has received and what it has paid out in the way of salary increases and one time bonuses.

“We have gotten nothing,” she said. “We just want to be at a level where we should be.”

Jim Abbott, TTUSD assistant superintendent, said the 9.38 percent requested by the teachers is unrealistic, but Baker said it’s all a matter of catchup.

“The district showed the 0 percent increase from 1995-96 to 1996-97,” she said. “They didn’t want to show the proposed increase to 1997-98 because that’s zero too.”

Abbott said the district is in a bind because of minimal reserves on hand and no additional budget for the increase. He said the district offered 2.65 percent over the allotted annual 2 percent increase.

“We need to maintain our reserves,” he said and added if the 9.38 percent increase is approved there would be an overall budget deficit of $200,000 per year. The proposed 4.65 percent would result in an additional expenditure of $643,981 per year, which would be in balance with the district’s priorities, he said.

Baker said the teachers don’t agree with these numbers and hope they aren’t being used to persuade the public to side with the district.

“Unless people work within the district and know what’s really going on, the numbers are hard to understand,” she said.

In response to the district’s decision to advertise the district’s salary schedule (see this week’s paper) comparing the numbers with other districts in the county, Baker said there is no comparison.

“For people to look at straight numbers, they wouldn’t understand what they’re looking at,” she said. “Each district is different.”

She compared the Rocklin Unified School District with TTUSD as an example. She said that for TTUSD teachers to reach the district’s maximum salary level of $52,354, 27 years of district employment and 90 graduate credits are required. In Rocklin, the maximum salary of almost $50,000 requires 12 years of employment and 60 graduate credits.

“I could have been making close to $8,000 more 10 years ago at another district,” she said. “You can’t tell the difference between the districts by just looking at the numbers.”

Provided health benefits also differ from district to district, she said.

Negotiators for TTUSD and TTEA are meeting with the state mediator today, after which time the impasse will either be solved or the dispute will go to a fact-finding session to report on the state of the district salaries.

Abbott and Baker agree that both parties hope for a quick resolution.

Dependent upon the outcome of today’s negotiations, Baker said teachers from the lakeside schools are prepared to picket with Truckee’s teachers afterschool.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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