Jessica Cejnar / Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 @ 2:23 p.m. / Education, Local Government
District, DNTA Fact Finding Begins; Strike School Set For Saturday
School district administrators and the Del Norte Teachers Association are no closer to reaching an agreement, despite spending more than 19 hours with a neutral third party on Thursday.
Both parties reached an agreement on a handful of items, but are still at an impasse when it comes to salaries and benefits, DNTA President Marshall Jones told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Friday. Strike school is still set for Saturday, he said. The earliest DNTA members can strike is Jan. 15, Jones told the Outpost.
“Everything’s still open,” Jones said. “We want to get our people prepared and if they have any questions, answered, that kind of thing.”
The neutral third party has yet to give a recommendation, according to a DNTA representative. They went back into negotiations with the district’s executive team at about 4 p.m. Friday.
According to district spokesman Michael Hawkins, the district’s latest offer of a 1 percent guarantee pay increase and a one-time 1 percent pay increase based on student enrollment still stands.
Though he told the Outpost initially that after everything was calculated, the district’s offer “was pretty much the equivalent of 3.3 percent,” Hawkins said that figure was inaccurate.
“The overall raises offered by the district to teachers for this year is only 2 percent,” he told the Outpost via email Friday afternoon. “There is a hidden cost to the district that is not shown here from retirement and other benefits. That comes out to about a 2.6 percent cost increase to give teachers a 2 percent salary raise.”
According to a tentative agreement reached between both parties on Thursday, the district will provide 12 days annual personal illness or injury leave for a full-time certificated staff member, which will be accumulative. Those days may be used for the individual staff member or that person’s spouse, parent or child.
Personal illness or injury leave can also be donated to the Employee Donated Sick Leave Program, according to the tentative agreement.
The tentative agreement also stipulated that regular faculty meetings, including topics that will be discussed, shall be noticed 24 hours in advance except in the case of Monday meetings. Staff will be notified on Friday about the topics to be discussed for Monday meetings.
Those staff meetings are not to exceed 60 minutes and attendance is required unless the staff has made previous arrangements with the principal.
The agreement also addressed preparation and planning periods, stating that when students are in session, a teacher’s observed duty day will be from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Professional development will be six hours long with an additional 30 minute lunch that will not be impaired. Staff will also be guaranteed a continuous hour of time to prepare for class.
DNTA and district administrators began negotiating a 2019-2020 teachers contract last spring. Teachers asked for a 6 percent raise and a $1,000 increase to their health and welfare benefits.
The district offered to either increase teacher pay by 1 percent or apply that 1 percent to their health and welfare benefits. Administrators said an anticipated 3.26 percent cost of living adjustment wouldn’t be sufficient to raise salaries further.
In August, DNTA representatives told district officials they would take a 1 percent pay raise if the district agreed to eliminate enough professional development days and adjunct hours to equal a 3.35 percent increase. In September, district officials stated again the COLA wouldn’t be enough to increase teacher pay.
On Sept. 26, DNUSD Board President Frank Magarino announced district negotiators would return to the bargaining table, however a month later negotiator Paige Thompson told the school board administrators were unprepared to negotiate.
If teachers strike, schools will still be open, DNUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Jeff Napier told the Outpost last month. Teachers won’t be paid and will not receive retirement credit for the days they’re on strike, according to Napier.
Correction: An earlier version of this story quoted Del Norte Unified School District spokesman Michael Hawkins as stating the district's offer to teachers "was pretty much the equivalent of 3.3 percent." That statement was inaccurate and has been corrected.