Teachers voice their outrage over pay raise proposals | SierraSun.com

Teachers voice their outrage over pay raise proposals

Renee Shadforth
Sierra Sun
Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunWith her daughter in her arms, Suzie Dailey speaks to the school board on Wednesday.

Teachers in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District packed the district board room Wednesday night to protest a proposed 1 percent raise for the 2004-05 school year.

Several teachers spoke during the public comment period, saying they are outraged that they haven’t received a cost of living increase for two ” going on three ” years, all while the top district administrative positions have had pay increases.

Many teachers told school board members that morale in the district is the lowest it has been in years.

“Do you have a plan for us? If the board and administration in this district are not budgeting for the teachers, how can they budget for the children?” asked Erika Murphy, president of the Tahoe Truckee Educators Association.

School board members could not address questions about negotiations because they can’t discuss items not on the agenda, according to Brown Act regulations. However, school board President Cindy Gustafson addressed the teachers on general terms at the end of the public comment period.

“I think you know that each of us as board members has worked individually and collectively to make things better for (teachers),” Gustafson said.

Her comment was met by a loud “no” from teachers in the board room.

Gustafson also said the information that has been distributed to union members is different than information she has received from district administrators.

“I want to look at both and find out which is correct,” she said.

Teachers union negotiators have asked for a 6 percent salary increase from the school district. The 6 percent, Murphy said, will make up for teachers receiving no cost of living increase for the past two years.

However, district administrators say that teachers received the equivalent of a 3 percent compensation increase when the district increased its spending cap on benefits last year from $6,800 to $8,500 for both current and retired teachers.

District negotiators counter-offered with a 1 percent increase on the salary schedule that will be retroactive to September. The union rejected the offer.

“I am angry and bitter about the 1 percent offer you gave us. How pathetic, you should have offered us nothing,” Diane Laroche, a math teacher at Tahoe Truckee High School, said to the school board and administrators.

The district’s negotiating team went into closed session after Wednesday night’s board meeting and delivered a new proposal to the teachers union on Thursday after the Sierra Sun’s press time.

Since Monday, most teachers have been working to rule ” meaning that they have only spent the time required by their contracts in school ” to protest the district’s offer on the negotiating table.