While dropping kids off at Capistrano Unified School District's 55 campuses this morning, parents were forced to avoid unmovable objects:
The San Juan Capistrano-based district, which has schools in that city as well as Dana Point, Aliso Viejo, San Clemente and other South County areas, is facing state budget cuts, just like all California public school systems.
The district's Board of Education wants to institute a 10.1 percent, across-the-board pay cut, which teachers are willing to accept--if the reduction expires on June 30, 2011. Teachers also want the district to be willing to restore pay earlier than that if an unexpected windfall of money comes to Capistrano.
The district is unwilling to negotiate with these "preconditions," according to a district spokesperson. In a terse letter to teachers, the district says it is willing to negotiate, but the pay "restoration" language must be removed before returning to the table.
Vicki Soderberg, the president of the 2,200-member Capistrano Unified Education Association (CUEA) says that backs teachers up against the handball wall.
"We clearly gave them a chance to avert a strike and their refusal leaves teachers no choice," Soderberg states on the CUEA website.
She called the district's current proposals "ambiguous," and the Board of Education's threat of legal action against teachers to keep them in classrooms counter-productive.
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"If you're really serious about bargaining, you don't start out by threatening legal action," Soderberg states. "Once again the Capistrano Board of Education is attempting to equivocate and obfuscate instead of negotiate."
Still, she said teachers are willing to continue with negotiations that, if successful, could land them back in classrooms by Friday.
"It's up to the board to prove they're serious about reaching a settlement," according to Soderberg.
In the meantime, parents are advised to steer around the picket signs.