Delhi teachers picket school board, seek ‘fair share’ as contract negotiation impasse declared

More than 50 teachers and supporters showed up with picket signs at Tuesday night’s Delhi Unified School District board meeting, after negotiations for a contract with the teachers union broke down.

The Delhi Teachers Association and school district administration declared an impasse in contract negotiations for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years on March 28, union President Christine Avila said.

In contention is the salary raise for 125 district teachers for the current school year, Avila said.

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Teachers and supporters stand outside the Delhi Unified School District board conference room at 16091 Locust St. before a board meeting on April 9, 2019, with signs in support of the Delhi Teachers Association and its fight to give teachers a 3.7 percent raise. Contract negotiations with the school district administration were declared at an impasse on March 28, according to teachers union representatives. Vikaas Shanker

Teachers were asking for a 3.7 percent increase, Avila said — equal to the latest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase former Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget allocated to school districts. The school district has offered a 3 percent increase instead, according to Avila.

“Our district’s offer is competitive and aligns with the goal of keeping DUSD teachers among the highest paid in the county,” Superintendent Adolfo Melara said.

Because of the lower cost-of-living adjustment rates in previous years, teachers agreed to receive a one-time 2 percent bonus instead of a raise during the 2017-18 school year, Avila said.

Also, the school district’s classified staff union was offered a 7 percent raise and settled their contract on Feb. 12. “We just want our fair share,” Avila said.

Several supporters spoke during the public comment session of the board meeting, claiming there was a lack of respect for teachers.

El Capitan Elementary sixth grade teacher Amanda Parrish asked for improved direct communication between the school board and teachers, claiming the contract issues have led to poor morale and was contributing to a higher staff turnover rate.

Vicki Church, a second grade teacher, claimed teachers feel “unsafe” and “not respected.” She said in addition to the salary fight teachers sometimes don’t feel appreciated by administrators in the classrooms.

Other teachers had complaints about specific issues with teacher evaluations. “What we hear (right now) is teachers are only worth 3 percent,” said Javier Perez, a Delhi Middle School teacher.

After the meeting several school board members and Melara thanked teachers for organizing and speaking up.

School board President Maggie Reyes didn’t comment on the negotiations or issues brought up by the teachers.

Teachers also are expected to picket the school district’s community meeting Wednesday evening on its Local Control and Accountability Plan, according to union members.

The meeting at 6 p.m. in the Delhi High School gym will include a survey for parents and other community members to give their input on priorities for the school district, including expanded curricula for information technology, sports and music curricula, more resources to combat chronic absenteeism, training for teachers and literacy support.

The community meeting also will include discussions on immigration law, Melara said.