Teachers show up at board meeting again | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Teachers show up at board meeting again

Mary Thompson

Teachers are turning to public comment sessions at school board meetings to put pressure on Lake Tahoe Unified School District administration and board members to get contract negotiations settled.

In the last two scheduled board meetings, teachers have shown up en masse wearing black T-shirts as a symbol of their unity and discontent with salary negotiations. More than 75 teachers attended both meetings.

South Tahoe High School teacher Marsha Butler spoke to the board at Tuesday’s meeting.

In a speech of about 15 minutes, she explained her position on salary negotiations.

“I’ve dedicated half of my life to this school district and not one of you have put that much time into this district,” Butler, who has been a LTUSD teacher for 26 years, said to the school board. “I think we deserve…respect … and to be paid. If I treated my students like I feel I am treated here, you wouldn’t have me as a teacher.”

Butler said, in an interview after her comments to the school board, that she felt she needed to speak directly to the school board after the board’s response to comments made by teacher Steve Hall at the Sept. 14 school board meeting. She said a lack of eye contact and body language by board members at that meeting made her feel unappreciated as a teacher in the district.

“It was a disrespectful presence and I didn’t feel valued or appreciated after 26 years in this district,” she said. “I think that was the catalyst.”

The 296 LTUSD teachers, who are represented by the South Tahoe Educators’ Association union, are seeking a salary increase and have been working under the terms and conditions of their expired contracts since July 1998.

Educators’ Association President Mike Patterson said speaking at board meetings is the only way the teachers have to communicate with the district.

“We’re trying to demonstrate our resolve,” he said. “We’ve asked the board to sit down and talk with us but they refused and we feel that this is the only way we can talk to them.”

In addition to showing up at meetings, the teachers tried to get their message out to parents by handing out literature last week at Back to School Night at all of the district’s school sites.

“We found that this is a good way to reach most parents,” he said. “We don’t think the public really knows what’s going on here … that we came to an agreement (in January) and the district reneged on its agreement.”

The Educators’ Association filed for impasse with the Public Employment Relations Board in May requiring negotiations to continue with a state-appointed mediator. Since then, the two parties have met twice with the mediator, both times without resolution. The next mediation session is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 11, according to Patterson.

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