“Our students are the center of everything we do.”
Seasons’ Greetings everyone!
As we wind down the first semester, we are reminded of the joy and good tidings we celebrate at this time of year, and KHSTA teachers do have a lot to celebrate this December.
The KHSTA Executive board is proud of our teachers who gave up several Saturdays in September and October to canvas areas 1 and 4 in support of former teachers Jan Graves recently retired from Foothill High School and retired teacher Cynthia Brakeman formerly of Arvin High School who ran for the two seats on the KHSD Board of Trustees. Both of these ladies worked hard as teachers, and now they want to work hard for our students and teachers by serving on the board. In addition to walking precincts on the weekends, our teachers also wrote hundreds of personalized requests on postcards asking non-KHSD teachers in these areas to vote for these candidates. All of this hard work paid off when both Jan and Cynthia won their seats by wide margins. They were sworn in and sat on the board for the first meeting of their terms last Monday night.
But that isn’t all that warmed my heart on that night.
On that cold, dark evening a couple hundred of KHSTA members and their families met in the KHSD parking lot wearing “Red for Ed.” to line the front of the main KHSD office building all the way to the EOC boardroom and filling the seats therein to remind the board members that we have been working without a contract since the beginning of the school year. Despite the new funds KHSD has received, the district determined that you are entitled to just a 2% salary increase for “the work we do”. (Even Social Security is getting 2.8%!) Our bargaining team led by Cathy Adams has remained steadfast that 6% is the “bottom line”. It was the districts assumption that KHSD teachers would be completely satisfied with a 2% increase. But the teachers who stood in the gauntlet last Monday night spoke loud and clear that we believe our students deserve much better, and that means valuing the teachers who provide everything they can to our students every school day.
I would like to thank everyone for these turnouts. It is proof of your tireless dedication to the youth of Kern County. It is my Christmas wish that the next message you receive from me is a congratulatory note on receiving the raise you all deserve. In the meantime, I hope that you have a wonderful and well-deserved holiday break.
First and foremost, the bargaining team would like to thank you for your support. Thank you for wearing red in support of the association and bargaining process; thank you for taking time out of your already busy schedules to attend the board meeting on Dec. 10. We are stronger together!
Just to recap what’s happening with bargaining -- last spring, in an attempt to speed up the negotiation process, we gave the district our bottom line number in our first proposal. We told them it was our bottom line, and we said we would be willing to take it over two years in order to get a quick settlement. Remember, the district is getting over 9.4% in new, ONGOING money this year. Next year, it is projected to be over 4%. The district came back with 2% and 2%. We asked if that was their last best offer and were told yes, so we declared an impasse. Over the summer, we were told that the district had offers we hadn’t seen, so the impasse was sent back to us by PERB (state employment board), and we went back to the table at the beginning of this year. The district came in with a 2% on, 1% off, 2% on, 1% off offer. That means that they were still offering 4%, but they were “sweetening” the deal with some bonus money. Off schedule money means it is ONE time. It doesn’t ever show up again. We offered to take 5% retroactive to July and 1% additional starting in January. They came back with 2% on, 2% off, 2% on. Again, no change in the offer, just how they were going to pay out the money. The comment made when that offer was made was that the district felt “that was fair for the work you do.” At the board meeting in November, we had to explain that off schedule money does not mean an increase in pay, it is a one-time payment. Currently, that is where we stand. We will be meeting with the district to continue bargaining after finals on Wednesday, Dec. 19.
We have heard some teachers say that 2% is okay and they would take it, but my response to that is do you really believe that what you are being asked to do is only worth 2% of the 9.5% new funding the district is getting? Is it okay that teachers, counselors, and speech pathologists who work directly with the students every day, the ones who directly impact their learning, the ones students go to when they need help, advice, letters of recommendation, etc., are not the priority of the district? We say no. We have never asked for more money than the district can afford. Often, we have settled for less than they can afford.
We are being asked to do more and more. It is time for the district to make us the priority, and give us the increase that we have asked for.
Thank you again for your support. We hope you have a restful holiday break.
Cathy Adams, Bargaining Chair
(on behalf of the bargaining team)
Welcome our new board members:
Jan Graves and Cynthia Brakeman