Talks on Teachers’ Pay Continue

They’re still talking.
“Still working on the numbers,” as La Cañada Teachers Association President Mandy Redfern put it in an email Wednesday.
Representatives of the LCTA and the La Cañada Unified School District continued to negotiate teacher pay this week. The two sides met on Monday and Tuesday, according to LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette.
Last week, she said they engaged in a bargaining session that lasted until after 2 a.m. on May 18.
It’s all in an effort to increase teacher salaries in the district. The teachers’ union is seeking to close the gap between what its members earn as compared with their counterparts in four comparable high-achieving Los Angeles County districts.
LCUSD has identified improved teacher compensation as a priority, but it says it faces constraints in how it goes about it.
The recent negotiations take place following Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revision of the 2016-17 state budget. Despite lowered state revenue projections and Brown’s forecast that an economic recession could be on the horizon, state funding for K-12 and community colleges is to rise nearly $3 billion for the fiscal year starting July 1.
In an editorial in the Outlook earlier this month, LCTA President Mandy Redfern wrote that if more funds were, in fact, earmarked for education, the “LCTA expects that this money should go to teachers who have waited long enough.”
Redfern added: “During most of [the past 13] years, we accepted a 0% increase to our salaries, saw a cap placed on the district’s contribution to our health benefits and agreed to give up health benefits during retirement. LCTA took the responsibility of the district’s fiscal solvency very seriously.”
Consequently, she wrote, LCUSD teachers’ salaries have fallen below those offered to teachers in Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes, San Marino and South Pasadena school districts.
Governing Board President David Sagal, in an editorial, pointed out some of the challenges facing LCUSD, which is one of the lowest-funded districts in the state. Also, for comparison’s sake, he wrote that LCF’s current $450 parcel tax (which is set to expire in 2021), is lower than San Marino’s $1,195 parcel tax.
“Recruiting and retaining teachers is the district’s first priority,” he wrote. “But for teachers to teach, they need a safe and well-maintained school to do it in, and books to teach from.”
The district has identified a variety of measures that include deferring some maintenance and cutting some programs that could pull it closer by offering, for example, $97,851 to teachers with 25 years of experience who now earn a maximum of $90,720 — compared with the $100,423 earned by the San Marino Unified teachers with 20 years of experience.
At the last Governing Board meeting, LCTA’s Tracey Calhoun indicated that offer left the two sides about $300,000 apart.

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