The following story is a corrected version of the article “Impasse broken: School district rescinds more pink slips; staff takes 2 percent pay cut,” which ran in the June 2 issue of the Journal.
On Tuesday, The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees rescinded the majority of layoff notices for certificated and classified employees without coming to an agreement in negotiations with the Turlock Teachers Association or the California School Employees Association.
Trustees voted to rescind 72 of the 76 pink slips for certificated employees, along with the majority of pink slips for classified employees.
Four pink slips that were handed out to teachers and an undisclosed number of pink slips given to classified employees will not be rescinded due to a “lack of work,” said TUSD Board President Frank Lima.
By deciding to rescind the pink slips, the board of trustees took away other options available to the district to fill the gap in funding expected for the 2010-2011 school year. This move forces teachers to take a cut in their salary and benefits, said Jennifer Collins, lead negotiator for the TTA.
“With this vote we are essentially removing all other options from the table and moving forward,” said John Sims, TUSD trustee.
At the May 18 board meeting, trustees rescinded 58 pink slips leaving 19 pink slips available in case a solution could not be found in union negotiations. The salaries of the remaining 19 positions that received pink slips in March and were rescinded on Tuesday, equals the amount of savings if all employees would take a two percent pay cut to fill the $1.5 million gap in funding the TUSD expects for the 2010/2011 school year.
The district, TTA and the CSEA are still in negotiations after the district declared impasse on May 21 with the two unions.
“The only way this is heading is the two percent cut which has been frustrating,” Collins said. “The union feels like we are being put into a box. Ultimately, the board can say thanks for going through the impasse process now take the two percent cut.”
The district and the two unions are preparing to enter into mediation within the next two weeks through the impasse process, said Sonny Da Marto, TUSD superintendent. If no solution is found through mediation a fact finder will come in and present information to the board of trustees. If no solution is found by that time, the board of trustees has the ultimate power to make a decision to fill the $1.5 million gap in funding.
“It seems like a no brainer to me to be able to keep 100 percent of our teachers,” Sims said. “I don’t see the other suggestions promoting student achievement.”
Besides reductions in salaries and benefits, other options that were presented to the board were furlough days and increased class sizes. However, the trustees made it clear at their meeting that they were not interested in those options.
“I don’t think furlough days or increasing class sizes are good for the kids,” said Bob Weaver, TUSD trustee.
TUSD started negotiations on March 19 asking the TTA, the CSEA, the Turlock Classified American Federation of Teachers and unrepresented employees to take a two and a half percent salary and benefit reduction.
District staff was expecting $3.9 million in budget cuts, but as of April, the district was informed that their attendance was better than expected leaving only $3.5 million in budget cuts, said Lori Decker, TUSD chief financial officer.
The $400,000 that will not be cut due to better attendance allowed the district to ask classified and certified employees for a two percent reduction in salary and benefits instead of the two and a half percent cut.
Even though a solution hasn’t been found with the TTA and CSEA, the board approved on Tuesday a two percent salary and benefits reduction for district and site administration, classified management , student support and confidential employees.
District and site administration will take a 1.15 percent decrease in salaries and a 0.85 reduction in their benefit cap. Student support personnel will take a 0.85 percent decrease in salaries and a 1.11 percent reduction in their benefit cap. Classified management will take a 0.78 percent decrease in salaries with a 1.22 percent reduction in their benefit cap. Confidential employees will take a $1,304 reduction in their benefit cap which is equivalent to a two percent reduction in salary and benefits.
All reductions will be effective on July 1.
“The reality is that we are all in this together,” Lima said. “It is not because of the teachers, the parents or the administrators. It is because of all of us and we all need to step it up. We just need to get through this year right now.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.