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Rocklin teachers, district reach impasse

Teachers’ strike possible after cold negotiations
By: Brody Fernandez Of Gold Country Media
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Rocklin teachers and the Rocklin Unified School District have come up empty-handed again in negotiations to possibly prevent a teachers strike.

An impasse was declared, as of Oct. 12, according to Rocklin Teachers Professionals Association President Colleen Crowe.  

What looked like significant progress last month turns out to be more hurdles as talks turned stale.

A tentative salary agreement was reached between the school district and the teacher association on Sept. 11 for the 2017/2018 contract negotiations, as reported Sept. 14 (front page, “Partial settlement reached between Rocklin teachers and school district”).  

The main concerns teachers have with the current negotiations include several main elements:

  • Special education - Teachers would have access to all the curriculum for their students and have the appropriate training in that curriculum. Guaranteed aide time bus to bus for students who need constant supervision. (Most of the aides’ work day ends prior to the end of the school day.) Caseload limits, teacher training on how to better assist students with special needs. Receive time and/or compensation for attending individual education program (IEP’s) outside of the contract day or during their prep. Teachers having a voice in special-education placement of students.

  • Safety - The district will provide a safe environment for all staff and students, proper training on how to help a child who is harmful to themselves and/or others. Training on how to deal with extreme behaviors. Adequate time and resources to conduct mandatory trainings on blood borne pathogens, sexual harassment, mandated reporting and CPR/First Aid.

  • Salary/Wages - 2.5 percent increase in salary and benefits was expressed. For the 2017/2018 contract, the district agreed on 1.9. RUSD received  a 5.29 increase in new money. According to the Rocklin Unified School District, the superintendent receives an automatic 2.5 percent increase every year, while the deputy superintendent of human resources position was given a significant raise in late 2017 or early 2018 somewhere around 4 percent.

Gold Country Media spoke with Crowe on her frustrations on behalf of Rocklin teachers.

“We have met eight times for over 55 hours and still find ourselves unable to settle issues over special ed, transfers, leaves, class size, prep time, teachers course loads, hours of employment, specially adjunct duties, wages and benefits,” Crowe said.

The president representing all Rocklin teachers, did not hold back about the negotiations for the 2018/19 contracts.

“We felt the district was dragging its feet. They seemed unwilling to spend much time talking to us about monetary issues,” Crowe said.

“We only asked for new money they received over the last two years. They will claim they can't afford it but they can,” Crowe said.  

According to Crowe, the  Rocklin Teachers Professionals Association has done a thorough analysis of the district’s budget and say they are capable of agreeing to the language the teachers feel is beneficial for students and also their wages and salaries.

The Rocklin Unified School District also spoke with Gold Country Media about the impasse.

“The Rocklin Unified School District is disappointed the Rocklin Teachers Professional Association have declared impasse for the 2018-2019 negotiation process,” said district spokeswoman Diana Capra.

In contrast to Crowe’s sentiment on negotiations, Capra said the district has been accommodating.

“We feel negotiations for the 2018-19 contract year have been progressing very well,” Capra said. “We have met eight times in the past seven weeks. We have even reached six tentative agreements and a ‘memorandum of understanding’ during that time.”

According to Capra, the Rocklin teachers are simply asking for too much money.

“Currently, the teachers' union is asking for a 14.7 percent  increase in total compensation. Rocklin Unified School District is offering 4.65 percent in total compensation,” Capra said.

The district says that is a generous offer since the total amount of resources available for teacher raises is a 3.06 percent in total compensation.

“We value each and every one of our staff members, including our talented teachers,” Capra said. “We remain committed to reaching a fair settlement as quickly as possible with the teachers union.”

The Rocklin Teachers Professional Association was to meet after press time Thursday with the Rocklin Unified School District for more mediation. At this point, a strike is still possible.

“We took a strike authorization vote recently and our members overwhelmingly support a strike if needed,” Crowe said. “My hope is that the mediator can help us be creative and get a solution to the 18/19 contract year. Hopefully, (a strike) does not happen.”