LTUSD teachers wear their hearts on their sleeves |

LTUSD teachers wear their hearts on their sleeves

Mary Thompson

Wearing black T-shirts as a symbol of their unity, more than 75 teachers rallied for across-the-board salary increases at the Lake Tahoe Unified School District school board meeting Tuesday evening.

The teachers, who have been working without a contract since July 1998, belong to the South Tahoe Educator’s Association – a local affiliate of the California Teachers’ Association Union.

Sue Channel, who is on the negotiations team for the Educator’s Association, spoke to the school board members during public comment session on behalf of the 296 teachers the union represents.

“We are told that we can’t meet in private, so we come here tonight in public,” Channel said. “It isn’t easy to come here with our T-shirts on.”

The T-shirts’ black with white lettering across the chest read, “It’s time for a change.”

“It could mean a lot of things,” said Steve Hall, a member of the negotiating team on the Educator’s Association. “We’re asking the teachers to wear their shirts to work every Friday until we have a contract.”

Paperwork was filed in May by the Educator’s Association to call in a state-appointed mediator to open up negotiations between the district and its teachers, because they feel no progress is being made in negotiations.

At the meeting, Channel said that the Educator’s Association reached an agreement with the school district on Jan. 20 to increase teachers’ salaries by 4.3 percent over a three-year timeline.

According to Channel, the Educator’s Association and LTUSD agreed that the salary increase would cost about $600,000 to fulfill. With the support of the school district, the Educator’s Association formed a Budget Advisory committee whose primary purpose was to locate money to fund the salary increase.

Channel said that after the funding had been found, the district rescinded on its portion of the agreement.

LTUSD teachers’ salaries start at $25,945 and go to $51,043 for teachers with a Master’s degree and 21 years of experience. This salary ranks second to last in beginning and top salary categories when compared to 20 other school districts in California of similar size and state funding, according to a study by the School Services of California, of Sacramento.

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