Teachers’ union leader steps down | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Teachers’ union leader steps down

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

After six years of negotiating teacher salaries, trying to change the perception of teachers and figuratively arm-wrestling school district officials behind closed doors, Mike Patterson is ready to pass the reins of president of the South Tahoe Educators Association.

Plus, he’s tired.

“There’s a number of reasons,” said Patterson, 41. “The most pressing reason is I just need a break.”

Patterson called this year’s board of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District the most attentive he’s faced in six years.

“(I was) able to work with the school board that now listens to the concerns of teachers when past school boards wouldn’t,” he said. “This is probably the smoothest year I’ve ever had.”

That wasn’t the case four years ago when Patterson and the school board butted heads on giving teachers a cost of living increase. A strike was a possibility but didn’t become a reality, Patterson said.

Numerous teachers in the district had nothing but praise for the automotive and metal shop instructor who also coaches high-school football and is the school’s head golf coach.

“I thought he worked really hard,” said STHS French teacher Heidi Morain. “He did a good job and tried to be fair for our benefits. He took both sides before making judgments.”

“I think he’s done an absolutely outstanding job,” said Holly Greenough, a teacher at South Tahoe Middle School. “He has led steadfast through insurmountable obstacles. I think he’s worked really hard to make sure his personal opinions are not at the heart of the matter. He looks to the law and what’s right. Through his reign, we have had reduction in force and we had huge salary issues because of the governor’s funding. I would say in the history of our district, he has really had to take charge with issues nobody’s dealt with before.”

Patterson plans to stay involved in LTUSD to make sure a state school bond measure, Proposition 47, passes in November.

A majority of the nearly 280 teachers in the district elected Jimmy Vaughn, a six-year instructor at South Tahoe Middle School, to replace Patterson on Aug. 31.

The two are friends and speak often.

“We’ve already met a couple times,” Patterson said. “I’ll give him all the help he wants.”

He doesn’t envy Vaughn with teaching full-time, being the new father of premature twins and becoming the new president of the teacher’s association.

“He’s not in a very enviable position,” Patterson said. “The timing couldn’t be worse for him but I’m sure he’ll find the time to do it.”

Vaughn was not available for comment on Monday.

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