Glendora Unified, Teachers Union Negotiations at Impasse

Tensions are rising as the Glendora Unified School District and the Glendora Teachers Association have yet to agree on a pay raise for district teachers.

The GTA is asking for a raise of 9 percent for this year, while the district is offering a 2.5 percent raise. Negotiations have been ongoing since May of last year, school officials said. The district has expressed interest in a “fair share” compensation model, but according to Dominic DiGrazia, assistant superintendent of personnel, the Teachers Association has expressed little interest.

Glendora Unified Teachers have had a show of force at recent Glendora Unified Board meetings, with many airing their frustration with what they believe is poor management.

“We hear a lot in the media of how much money is coming into education, yet employees see very little of it,” said Wayne Stam, representative of the Glendora Teachers Association, at a Jan. 15 board meeting. “We hear budget presentations that GUSD is deficit spending. Then we see the unaudited actuals and it’s not true.”

The GTA feels that the district has no intention of giving teachers a fair raise and have expressed displeasure with the minimum reserve the district has set in saving for financial crises.

The state of California legislated that school districts are to keep a minimum reserve of anywhere from one percent to five percent to plan for financial crises.

The Teachers Association asserts the district maintains a 13 percent reserve, amounting to more than $7 million, Stam said.

“The District has approximately a 6 percent unrestricted reserve, the equivalent of $4 million, or one month of payroll,” DiGrazia said in an email interview. “A 6 percent reserve is not considered high and, incidentally, there are many districts with significantly higher reserves than what GUSD maintains.

The new funding formula, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, has changed the way schools are funded from the state. The nearly 10 percent increase in funding this fiscal year includes monies that are either one-time, restricted or categorical and cannot be used for pay raises, DiGrazia said.

Glendora Teachers Association President Katy Mendoes said last month that district teachers have continually made due with what little funding they do have, buying supplies, taking furlough days and receiving little compensation during extra training while the district adopted new standards and technology.

“We have no interest in bankrupting the place we work. We need the district to be financially solvent. Teachers are hungry for a fair raise now,” Mendoes said. “The district clearly needs to reprioritize its options for spending.”

Mendoes expressed her disappointment  with negotiations on Feb. 5, when she said during that meeting the district rehashed a proposal for teacher raises, identical to one made before.

“We have excellent teachers in GUSD. The district goal is, and has always been, to keep our total compensation competitive while ensuring that we do not put programs for students or our fiscal solvency at risk. In terms of compensation within Los Angeles County, our employees have continuously compared well,” DiGrazia said.

Teachers are planning to show up in force once again at the Feb. 23 Glendora Unified School District Board of Education meeting tonight, Feb. 23, at 500 N. Loraine Ave. starting at 7 p.m.