Since September the Escondido Union High School District and the Escondido Secondary Teachers Association have been unable to reach an agreement on the teachers’ contract despite 12 negotiating sessions.
Olga West, assistant superintendent of human resources, told the Times-Advocate: “We’re looking at offering something that we feel is fair as well as fiscally responsible for our district. That’s the key, making sure we are within the confines of the dollars that we received. Many are restricted or are to be utilized for specific purposes.”
West said, “We’re using two professional development days and we increased the salary schedule for 1% and they are working an extra two days for that. They don’t consider that a pure raise but it is compensation.”
Tom Gabriella, president of the teachers’ union explained why this is not acceptable to his members. “After 12 negotiation sessions we remain apart and unable to close a deal because of our professional development days and whether or not they are using one-time funds or ongoing money to pay us for them,” he said.
“Last year the teachers union agreed to work two additional days for one year. The teachers’ union is looking for a 2% raise and the district has countered that the two additional days they worked should count towards –1% of the 2% —- instead of actually including a cost of living raise of 2%,” he said.
According to Gabriella, the extra amount the teachers made for the two additional days added up to 1% increase for working additional days.
If the union and district continue to not close a deal they could officially reach “an impasse,” at which point a mediator would be brought in to try to bring the two parties to an agreement.
“That has been the modus operandi” for the last few years, said the union president.
Currently the union members are picketing, which, said Gabriella, is a precursor to an impasse.
There is no deadline to reach a deal. “We like to be done with our negotiations during the school year and we hope that we can do that,” said West. “We are working on a one year agreement, but we are open to a multi-year contract,” she said.