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Budget crisis hits teacher salaries

No layoffs planned; settlement expected
By: Michael Althouse, The Placer Herald
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Although teachers' salaries have remained a key issue in the Rocklin Unified School District, no progress has been made as of yet. On March 17, the Rocklin Teachers Professional Associ-ation (RTPA) met with a mediator and officials from the Rocklin Unified School District for the third time. According to RTPA President Mary Dick, the contractual language regarding teachers' workload must be addressed when the two sides meet again in April. We'd like to see the district make a commitment in not just salary, but contractual language in regards to workload, Dick said. According to data collected by the California Department of Education, Rocklin teachers' salaries fall just under the 50 percent mark when compared to similar districts. The average salary paid to a Rocklin Unified teacher was $58,183 for 2006/07 while Roseville City Elementary teachers made $63,022 and Roseville Joint Union High teachers made $64,317 for the same period. Dick is quick to point out that Rocklin schools do have an advantage when it comes to facilities. We do appreciate working in nice schools and having a good work environment, she said. But we want teachers to stay. Many of our teachers can't afford to live in the area. I worry about teachers leaving for other districts. Dick pointed out concerns that the district plans to open the new elementary school and continue to set aside funds for operating expenses. Rocklin Unified Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources David Pope acknowledges the teachers should get a raise, but explained that the district's last offer was turned down. We set that money aside, but now we might need it to balance the budget, Pope said adding that the state budget crisis is now a factor that must be considered. We know we are asking a lot of our teachers, he said. We are what we are because of our teachers. Pope pointed out that although the money set aside might have to be used to balance the budget, there are no plans to lay any of the teachers off. We do have a commitment to our teachers and we are not laying off any of the new teachers we just hired, he said. Pope is confident that a settlement can be reached in mediation. Dick also is hopeful. We have great test scores and great people working here and they go above and beyond, she said. But we have to make ends meet.