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$18,695 Behind The State Average – Why the WCTA is Speaking Out (Op-Ed)

Ione Dellos, Staff Writer

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Six months of negotiations have brought tensions between the West County Teachers Association (WCTA) and the WSCUHSD to a boiling point. Due to an impasse between the two bodies, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) will assign a mediator to listen to the concerns of each side and try to smooth out a compromise. The WCTA is considering a strike if the WSCUHSD rejects the compromise from PERB mediator, but they would need almost 100% of Analy teachers to participate in order to get their message across. “You saw the stikes in LA, you saw the strikes in Oakland, and you saw the strikes in West Virginia! They got what they asked for. Why can’t we?” –Junie-Moon Curtis, Department Chair of World Language at Analy.

 

On the WCTA side of the issue, lead negotiator Brian Miller leads fellow teachers such as Joel Stickel, Tricia Maxson, Rachel Lasek, and Erick Olson Fernandez, CTA representative. On the WSCUHSD side of the issue, their negotiating team includes Mia Del Prete, Director of Human Resources, Mary Schafer, Chief Budget Officer, and Superintendent Toni Beal.

 

What has brought the two to impasse? For starters, Sonoma County teachers are $12,000 behind the state average for teachers, and $18,695 behind the state average for high school teachers. The median price for a 1-bedroom apartment in Sonoma County is around $1,350 or higher, and teachers are barely making enough money to scrape by. The WCTA demanded a 13% pay raise over the next three years, asking for a 5% increase this year, 4% for the 2019-2020 school year and 4% for the following year. To compare, the district’s offer was a 0% increase for this year, a 2.5% increase for the 2019-2020 school year, and a 0% increase for the year after that. The district says that they don’t have any money for salary raises, but according to Mr. Miller, the district doesn’t have any money because they didn’t budget for teacher salary raises in the first place.

 

To adjust to the cost of living, the state of California gave 3.77% increase to the district (COLA) in 2019, but the district offered none of it to the teachers, who haven’t seen a drop of the cost of living increase in their salaries.

 

At the last WSCUHSD board meeting on April 10th, the school board told the teachers about a new “Employee Appreciation Day” after rejecting their salary increase requests and not giving them the funds from COLA. Many teachers laughed when the board approved the motion, and to Junie-Moon Curtis “It felt like a slap in the face.”

 

In a recent statement on their website, the board did admit that they haven’t been paying their teachers enough. The board pointed fingers at the State of California, saying “Yes… But the funding for teacher salaries comes from the State.” When asked about the about the salary comparisons with West County teachers and other teachers across the state, the board said that it wasn’t a fair comparison. The board also admitted to spending more than they earned over the past few years. “With declining enrollment, the District experienced deficits from expense

growth that was greater than revenue growth.” I tried to contact the board for comment to see the situation from their perspective, as they are in between a rock and a hard place and funding at the moment, but they did not reply.

 

I hope that the school board listens to the WCTA and gives them the pay raises they asked for, because Analy would not be the same without our dedicated teachers. They devote countless hours of their time to making sure we succeed in life, grading papers and coming in early for tutorial to be there for kids who need it. Our teachers deserve a living wage in one of the most expensive towns to live in Sonoma County, and they shouldn’t have to go on strike to get the raises they rightfully deserve.

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$18,695 Behind The State Average – Why the WCTA is Speaking Out (Op-Ed)