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More salary cuts in store for school employees
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Despite opposition from teacher and classified employee unions, the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday adopted a 2012-13 budget that includes a 2.4 percent salary cut for all employees.

Currently, the Turlock Teachers Association and classified unions have reached impasse with TUSD, which means that are no longer actively negotiating.  Later this month the unions and the district will meet with a mediator in order to reach an agreement.  Should they not reach an agreement, it is likely a strike could occur. 

The point of contention between the district and the unions is how cuts in employee payroll are implemented. TTA’s position on cuts is that if it is necessary for employees to take cuts, they would rather have furlough days as opposed to a salary reduction, said TTA negotiator Jennifer Collins. She also noted that the district has refused to implement retirement incentives, as requested by the unions.

District officials maintain that furlough days would have more of an impact on students’ performance than cutting teachers’ salaries. 

Union representatives were also upset at Tuesday’s meeting after hearing about a new line item that has the district setting aside more than $5.6 million in reserve funding in case the two education funding ballot measures fail to pass in November.

 In order for a district to be considered financially healthy, it must maintain more than a 3 percent reserve status.  In addition to the $5.6 million set aside, the district also released that it will set aside another $5.6 million in reserves for technology improvements and strategic goals.  Previously, the district said that it would have a 16 percent reserve but with the two earmarks, it now will have an 8.9 percent reserve. 

“The district says that if the ballot measures pass, they would come back to negotiate the salary cuts.  But we (unions) are confused because if they have the money now, why would we need to come back and negotiate later?” said Collins.

Both the district and the unions are putting all of their hope into the voters passing the November tax initiatives.

“Our collective efforts need to be concentrated on getting the ballot measures passed.  Everything is going to depend on what happens in November,” said Collins.  “The TTA will be setting up a booth at the county fair to raise awareness and the CTA will be giving the information out to cities throughout the state.”