SONOMA COUNTY (CBS SF) – Teachers in three west Sonoma County high schools are striking Wednesday morning after contract negotiations failed Tuesday.
The West Sonoma County Teachers Association is asking for a 12 percent pay raise over three years, but the West Sonoma County Union High School District wants the raises tied to the passage of a parcel tax to finance the pay hikes during the last two years of a three-year contract, according to the teachers’ association.
The school district includes Analy, El Molino and Laguna high schools with 1,861 students, 110 teachers, counselors, nurses, school psychologists and speech language therapists. Students from Forestville, Sebastopol, Cazadero, Guerneville, Occidental and Monte Rio attend the schools.
“We are bitterly disappointed this district’s management and school board have their priorities so off track they can’t come to an agreement that will provide the best resources for our students,” the teachers’ association president Lily Smedshammer said in a news release.
“WSCTA made several concessions on salary and health benefits to avert the strike,” the teachers association said.
The teachers’ association’s chief negotiator Brian Miller said the district’s offer came close to the teachers’ request for a 12 percent raise over three years but it came with strings attached.
Management basically offered a one-year raise with two years of subsequent raises contingent on the passage of a parcel tax, according to the teachers’ association.
“This district management can afford this proposal without the contingencies,” Miller said.
In a letter to the community, district Superintendent Toni Beal said the district’s proposal called for teachers and the district to work collaboratively for a new parcel tax. She said the good faith effort would support students and teachers as a unified group.
Beal said the district’s original offer included a 6 percent, $1.6 million ongoing increase to salaries, and the union proposed a 12 percent, $3.2 million ongoing salary increase.
“WSCUHSD chose to meet the union’s salary demands with contingencies,” Beal said.
The district has hired substitute teachers, and the high schools will be open during the strike. Food service and transportation will also continue.
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