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South Bay teachers get squeaky wheel rolling

"Our superintendent makes more $ than our governor"

Lorena Garcia wields the bullhorn
Lorena Garcia wields the bullhorn

Teachers and supporters marched through Imperial Beach on January 21st to protest the South Bay Union School District budget plans, which include a pay raise for the superintendent that would reportedly make her salary higher than that of governor Jerry Brown’s. The teachers are calling for more nurses and counselors in the schools, 8 percent teacher pay raises, and smaller class sizes.

Police escorted the marchers (estimated in the hundreds) as they chanted and waved signs on the two-mile route down Imperial Beach Boulevard from Mendoza Elementary School to the school-district offices on Elm Avenue.

Organizers said they wanted to bring attention to an impasse in negotiations between teachers and the school district because "the district is not listening," according to Lorena Garcia, president of the Southwest Teachers Association, which describes itself as "a union and professional organization."

The marchers carried signs that read "Our superintendent makes more $ than our governor" in both English and Spanish.

According to TransparentCalifornia.com, district superintendent Katie McNamara is paid over $187,000 per year, or $216,000, including benefits, while the governor is paid less than $169,000 (less than $213,000 with benefits). McNamara received a 13 percent pay increase last summer and receives a 4 percent increase annually, according to Garcia, which is "a lot more than our overworked educators will get.”

Amy Cooper, executive assistant to McNamara and the district board of trustees, was contacted but did not reply to questions before the publishing of this article.

The teachers' contract expired last June; they are working without a contract, said Garcia via email. "The district believes they are doing much of what we are asking for, but don’t want it written in the contract," she said.

"It’s unfair the way they want to hold teachers accountable for everything but refuse to negotiate a contract that would hold the district accountable as well. If it’s not in writing they can take it away at any time. Our students need guarantees," Garcia added.

"We would like to stay at the table and work this out ourselves, but the district notified us at the last negotiations session on Wednesday [January 20] that they felt since there has been no movement that we need a third party to settle this," said Garcia.

Currently, each school nurse is required to "cover up to three schools at a time," Garcia said. "Our school nurses are responsible for specialized care for many of our students with special needs," in addition to medical care, classroom health education, working with parents, screening students for problems with hearing, eyesight, and nutrition as well for diseases.

"And that’s not counting all the record-keeping that’s involved. They do a lot more as well."

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Pageantry of the classroom has been replaced by Zoom tiles
Lorena Garcia wields the bullhorn
Lorena Garcia wields the bullhorn

Teachers and supporters marched through Imperial Beach on January 21st to protest the South Bay Union School District budget plans, which include a pay raise for the superintendent that would reportedly make her salary higher than that of governor Jerry Brown’s. The teachers are calling for more nurses and counselors in the schools, 8 percent teacher pay raises, and smaller class sizes.

Police escorted the marchers (estimated in the hundreds) as they chanted and waved signs on the two-mile route down Imperial Beach Boulevard from Mendoza Elementary School to the school-district offices on Elm Avenue.

Organizers said they wanted to bring attention to an impasse in negotiations between teachers and the school district because "the district is not listening," according to Lorena Garcia, president of the Southwest Teachers Association, which describes itself as "a union and professional organization."

The marchers carried signs that read "Our superintendent makes more $ than our governor" in both English and Spanish.

According to TransparentCalifornia.com, district superintendent Katie McNamara is paid over $187,000 per year, or $216,000, including benefits, while the governor is paid less than $169,000 (less than $213,000 with benefits). McNamara received a 13 percent pay increase last summer and receives a 4 percent increase annually, according to Garcia, which is "a lot more than our overworked educators will get.”

Amy Cooper, executive assistant to McNamara and the district board of trustees, was contacted but did not reply to questions before the publishing of this article.

The teachers' contract expired last June; they are working without a contract, said Garcia via email. "The district believes they are doing much of what we are asking for, but don’t want it written in the contract," she said.

"It’s unfair the way they want to hold teachers accountable for everything but refuse to negotiate a contract that would hold the district accountable as well. If it’s not in writing they can take it away at any time. Our students need guarantees," Garcia added.

"We would like to stay at the table and work this out ourselves, but the district notified us at the last negotiations session on Wednesday [January 20] that they felt since there has been no movement that we need a third party to settle this," said Garcia.

Currently, each school nurse is required to "cover up to three schools at a time," Garcia said. "Our school nurses are responsible for specialized care for many of our students with special needs," in addition to medical care, classroom health education, working with parents, screening students for problems with hearing, eyesight, and nutrition as well for diseases.

"And that’s not counting all the record-keeping that’s involved. They do a lot more as well."

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Comments
10

"The teachers' contract expired last June; they are working without a contract, said Garcia"

The great majority of workers in all professions in the US "are working without a contract" so what's wrong with that?

Jan. 24, 2016

Everything is wrong with that. Everyone signs a contract for everything from credit card agreements to mortgage contracts. No business does anything without a written agreement. Every worker should have a written agreement with their employer. No employee should be at the mercy or whim of their employer. For most of us our source of income and benefits come from the employer. No worker should be fired or disciplined without cause. Most workers think that their employer will treat them fairly and some do but most do not. It is ridiculous that the most important thing we do has no written agreement.

Jan. 25, 2016

Yet the rest of us working schmoes are at will employees and do just fine.

We are all protected by the Fair Housing and Employment Act and the volumes of statutes in the California Labor Codes.

Yet in addition to those statutes, government employees enjoy due process protection under the fourteenth amendment of the US Constitution that the rest of us do not have.

And you feel that government employees also need some sort of an employment contract? To perhaps protect the under performers?

Jan. 25, 2016

If you think the state laws will protect you you are living in a fantasy world. Yes there are laws but by the time they work through the system you will be broke. You should ask anyone who works with "at will" employees who thought that hard work and loyalty would pay off and didn't need no stinkin' union and found themselves on the street. CEO's, CFO's and other high paid executives, entertainers, etc. all have contracts just why shouldn't the rest of us schmoes? The most important thing you do, work, is left entirely to the whims of an employer. If government employees had no representation (contract) every time the political heads changed there would be a witch hunt for those who did not vote correctly.

Jan. 25, 2016

Alex, you are right about the need for some sort of agreement. But at the present time, in an employers' market, if you start to ask for such an agreement during the hiring process, you won't be hired! It's as simple as that, unfortunately. It will require a major societal change in the US for the working stiffs to be given any sort of contract. That is unless they have some skill that is in short supply. But then, if you possess some critical skill, you're not a working stiff, are you?

Jan. 26, 2016

Under your plan every worker would need an attorney to negotiate even the simplest of employment relationship. That would be insanity.

Yes, let's create a new market for lawyers and legal services. Good plan.

Jan. 26, 2016

No William every worker would not need a lawyer they only need to form or join a union. Union members elect thier officers and representatives and decide what is to be proposed to the employer and then vote on whether to accept or reject an employer offer and vote on whether to strike or not. The decline of unionism is directly tied to the collapse of the middle class.

Jan. 27, 2016

Yikes, shades of the industrial revolution. You certainly were born in the wrong era.

Jan. 29, 2016

Know what? If this "supe" is earning "only" $216K a year, she's in the bottom quartile or quintile of county superintendents. The usual one here is pulling down a quarter million or more, and that's been true for many years. I don't condone those fat salaries, especially when looking at the performance of many of those who get such pay. But in this situation, comparing her to the governor is rather amusing.

That school district has been an under-performer for decades, struggling along with its border zone clientele. It had acrimonious labor relations with teachers 'way back in the 70's, and that has probably continued on and off ever since. What's really new?

Jan. 24, 2016

"You greedmonger!" -- John Collins, Poway Superindendent

Jan. 25, 2016

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