Teachers Protest, March Throughout Glendora For Higher Pay

GTA March Down Glendora Ave

Glendora Unified teachers let their frustrations be heard loud and clear Monday afternoon as a large group protested throughout town.

The Glendora Teachers Association is registering their frustration with the district over pay raises. Educators want a 9 percent raise for the 2014-2015 academic year and beyond, combined with a 4 percent raise for 2016-2017 and beyond. The district continues to stand by their offer of 2.5 percent for 2014-2015 and beyond.

Educators sporting picket signs marched two miles, began their march at Glendora and Bennett avenues, marched through through the Village, east along Foothill Boulevard and north on Loraine Avenue ending at the Glendora Unified School District headquarters.

Impasse was mutually declared in February after both sides had not reached an agreement.

The GTA believes negotiations have led to impasse over what they believe is evidence of growing income in the Glendora Unified School District budget and the GUSD’s refusal to provide agreed upon pay raises for teachers.

Both sides have held about four negotiation sessions in 2014-2015, said Katy Mendoes, president of the Glendora Teachers Association.

The union and district officials agreed on an informal meeting in December to discuss budget numbers and the meeting seemed to go well with the district showing interest in a multi-year deal, only to have the district quickly show no interest at all, Mendoes said.

Fast forward to February 5 when during negotiations, the district did not make an increase to the previously-mentioned 2.5 percent. The union, seeing no progress being made, ultimately declared impasse, Mendoes said.

Initially, the GTA asked for a 12 percent increase for 2014-2015 and beyond, but lowered to the current proposal.

“We continue to think that they still owe us money for 2013-2014 that they weren’t willing to give us,” Mendoes said.

During negotiations late in 2013-2014, the union did receive a bonus of 2.65 percent and an off-schedule bonus of 1.35 percent. Both sides also agreed upon “reopener” language to negotiate changes to salary and benefits, which Mendoes said the district refused to do and will not move from its offer of a 2.5 percent raise for 2014-2015.

Wayne Stam, lead negotiator for the GTA, spoke at the Feb. 23 GUSD board meeting and read an agreement made between the two bargaining units:

“There will be a reopener for salary for 2014-2015, negotiations to commence by April 15, 2014, a basis for the salary increase shall be affordability by the district as measured by the year-over-year increase in per student funding.”

The union believes the district can afford the 9 percent proposal, but according to a document obtained by GCN, district officials say that the pay raise for 2014-2015 combined with the 4 percent would cost GUSD $4.5 million this year and $6.5 million every following year. Eventually, reserves would allegedly be depleted by $8.6 million for 2016-2017.

“You can’t put a dollar amount on the impact Glendora educators make on our students and their futures, so 2.5 percent is especially hurtful and insulting,” said Sandburg Middle School Teacher Kristy Carrigan at the protest.

“I wish the district administration and school board would make their teachers a priority. It seems like everything else comes first and the teachers are the last on the list,” said Glendora High School teacher Bill Lincoln.

In an email to GCN, Ron Bennett, representative for School Services of California, said “There is no question that the County Office of Education would be required to intercede immediately if the district were to attempt to give a 9.5 percent salary increase for the current year. The district’s financial certification would immediately be changed from “positive” to “negative” and under AB 1200, the financial solvency laws of the state, the COE would be required to intervene.”

According to Dominic DiGrazia, assistant superintendent of personnel at GUSD, the district’s 2.5 percent offer for 2014-2015 and beyond would cost $1.25 million annually, which would lower reserves to 6 percent of annual, unrestricted expenditures.

A 3 percent reserve is mandated by the state, while a 6 percent reserve is recommended.

Stam said Feb. 23 that “the GTA has presented a lot of evidence of growing amounts of money flowing into the district and the affordability of a fair raise.”

After analyzing district financial documents, GUSD has more than $7 million in reserves, an excess of $5 million, Stam said.

DiGrazia stated previously that the district maintains a 6 percent reserve, or $4 million, equal to one month of payroll.

Ron Bennett, representing School Services of California, was brought in as  mutually agreed-upon negotiations facilitator. Bennett initially proposed a “fair share” compensation method in which all teachers receive a percentage of all new revenue and would also take a percentage of all funding cuts, according to district officials.

“The benefit is that it is, as the name implies, a fair and equitable method of sharing increased revenue that comes into the district, or cut if they were to occur in the future,” said DiGrazia and Superintendent Rob Voors in a written statement.

The GTA is uninterested in the “fair share” method, feeling it inadequate for teacher raises.

“Both GUSD and GTA were disappointed that we were not able to come to a suitable agreement in negotiations. We look forward to having an impartial mediator come to work with both sides toward a resolution,” Voors and Digrazia said.

The district and the union will meet for a mediation session scheduled for April 8.

“We’re hopeful that something good will come,” Mendoes said. “But we’re not sure.”