Friday, April 27, 2007

Madera Teachers & Librarians Protest

The reports:

Madera teachers protest outside district's offices
By Charles McCarthy / The Fresno Bee
04/25/07 04:54:11

Hundreds of Madera Unified School District teachers picketed a school board meeting Tuesday to protest an impasse in contract negotiations.

Mediation is not expected to begin until June, said Caryn Coss, a Fresno-based California Teachers Association regional representative.

Teachers have been working under the terms of a contract that expired June 30.

Pay has been a divisive issue. The average annual salary for about 1,500 teachers, counselors, librarians and school nurses in the district is $56,529, said Sue Thornton, president of the Madera Unified Teachers Association.

The union says that the district's latest offer included a pay raise of just over 2% retroactive only to Jan. 1. An impasse was declared this month after the union rejected the offer.

The district has characterized the offer as a 4.2% raise. On Tuesday, district spokesman Jake Bragonier said the district stands by that figure.

The sides disagreed Tuesday over how the percentage should be calculated.

Teachers carrying signs marched Tuesday in two lines along nearly a full block of West Howard Road outside the district's offices as police watched and passing motorists honked.

"I'm insulted that [district officials] aren't respectful of my ability as a teacher, and that they don't see the worth of their teaching staff," said Susan Cielo, a special education teacher with 15 years in Madera Unified.

According to the Education Data Partnership, MUSD placed last in teacher salaries for the fiscal year of 2005-06 among five comparably-sized California school districts whose largest ethnic group is similarly Hispanic. MUSD also placed fourth among the five comparable districts in API Base Scores with 683 and had the second highest percentage of English learners.

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