Dozens of Temecula Valley Unified School District teachers stood in solidarity against a proposed contract offer they deemed unfair during a rally that started shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 2 at the Temecula Valley Duck Pond.
Cars driving down Ynez and Rancho California roads honked their horns in support of the teachers who waved signs like “support your students,” and “fair settlement.”
The issue was over a proposed contract that teachers rejected earlier this year. The contract would give teachers a one percent retroactive salary increase through January of 2014 and a three percent retroactive salary increase for the 2014-2015 school year.
Many teachers cited frustration over the proposal because teachers at Murrieta Valley High School District – which they say receives a very similar amount of funding – recently negotiated for a four percent retroactive raise for the same time period this year.
Jeff Kingsberg, president elect of the Temecula Valley Educators Association, said many teachers were also concerned over the fact that salary increases were being tied with class sizes.
In order to receive the pay raise of three percent for the 2014-2015 school year, teachers would have to agree with a clause that would increase class sizes within the elementary schools.
The normal student to teacher ratio for students in kindergarten as well as students in the first, second and third grades has been 24 to 1. The pay increase, if accepted by the teachers, would result in class sizes of 26 to 1 for students in kindergarten and 28 to 1 for students in first through third grades.
“We didn’t like that our salaries are being tied to that,” Kingsberg said. “We believe those are separate issues.”
Some teachers said they felt the increase of classes sizes would negate the approval of proposition 30, which the majority of California voters approved in 2012.
The bill sought to provide schools with increased funding to restore services and even complete such functions as reducing class size.
By approving the pay raise, some teachers said they felt they would be negating the proposition and changing what the voters stood for.
The proposal was struck down by a majority within the union, with 64 percent of teachers voting “no” on it last week.
And Monday’s rally has not been the only way that teachers have voiced their opposition to the proposed salary increase. TVEA members were seen picketing in front of all three of the city’s comprehensive high schools in their pursuit of what they consider to be a more fair settlement.
For some teachers the issue is deeper than this year’s proposal and it spans the past seven years. Over that timespan TVUSD teachers have not received a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase and have gone without pay on the district’s furlough days, according to Temecula Elementary teacher Nancy Reza.
“This is about the district taking teachers seriously and actually making us a priority,” she said “They got a big chunk of money this year and they’re not putting us into that equation.”
On Tuesday, June 3, teachers picketed before the school board meeting slated to take place at Temecula Valley School District’s Main Offices across from Temecula Valley High School.
“The bottom line is that our members are not just teachers, they are district residents,” he said. “Many of us are parents in this district we are tax payers in this district, so there is a bigger picture that we are invested in as well.”