Video by JP Raineri
Teachers from schools all over Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) rallied with picket signs in hand before discussing their specific concerns with a proposed pay raise with TVUSD’s board members during a school board meeting that took place Tuesday, June 3.
Tensions have been rising between the Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA) and the district for several weeks now following the proposal for a retroactive salary increase for teachers that would raise their salaries by one percent through the end of 2014 and three percent for the 2014-2015 school year.
Some educators cited Murrieta Valley Unified School District as an example when describing the proposed settlement as unfair. Teachers within that district have negotiated for a four percent retroactive salary increase until the end of 2014 and are still negotiating for the 2014-2015 school year.
Additionally, some teachers were upset that class size was being tied to their salary increase; they said it was unfair for the district to ask them to increase class sizes in exchange for more money when a reduction in quality of education could be the result.
TVEA’s president elect, Jeff Kingsberg, opened the meeting’s public comments to a round of thunderous applause from many of the teachers and classified technicians that work within the district.
Kingsberg spoke of the proposal that recently came to a vote. He said 64 percent of teacher’s union members voted against the proposed salary increase and added that if political pundits were drawing analysis, two conclusions would be drawn; one would be that voter turnout was high, and the other would be that those voters rejected the proposal in a landslide.
The president elect cited a lack of cooperation between district officials and members of the teachers union as a reason for the rejection of the proposal and the current rallies. He challenged Superintendent of Schools Timothy Ritter to help change the current situation.
“Superintendent Ritter we are counting on you to show us the leadership that many of us over the years have come to expect,” Kingsberg said. “It is time for you to demand that your business and accounting departments, under the direction of Lori Ordway-Peck, review the parameters of the local control funding formula and clarify that TVUSD is receiving millions of new dollars in 2014-21015.”
Teachers, library specialists and parents all took the stage to express their frustration with the district. Many of those individuals repeatedly expressed that a lack of cooperation, lack of clarity and a lack of respect for the teachers was to blame.
Anne McNulty, former president for TVEA, said she’s seen a noticeable transition from a district and board that were willing to work with teachers to ones that have been unclear and unwilling to tackle tough problems hand in hand with teachers.
She said that in order to come to reasonable solutions and reasonable deals, the district must be prepared to work with the teachers like they did in days past.
“You knew times would get better because we were working together,” she said.
During the meeting applause was often boisterous and members of the audience shouted in agreement with many of the speakers, causing TVUSD Board President Vince O’Neal to slam his gavel down hard in frustration.
Outside members of the teachers union who could not enter the building due to a lack of seating stood close to the windows with their signs in hand. Some of the teachers pressed those signs into the windows and continued to picket outside as the meeting continued.
Though the meeting was expected to last until later in the evening, many of the teachers left at the conclusion of the public comments shortly before 7:30 p.m.
It’s not clear at this time when the district might strike a deal with the teacher’s union, but it is clear that Kingsberg and his fellow teachers don’t intend to back down any time soon.
“We’d like to welcome you to a new era of TVEA leadership,” he said during the meeting. “The members of TVEA are looking forward to working with you to achieve a fair settlement.”