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Rocklin teachers protest

RUSD, RTPA still at odds on salary adjustments
By: ToLewis, The Placer Herald
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Rocklin teachers were out this week at various “back to school” nights around the city in protest of contract negotiations with the district. Members of the Rocklin Professional Teachers Association say the Rocklin Unified School District has yet to offer an adequate Cost of Living Adjustment for the 2007-08 school year. “They are offering us zero percent from last year,” said Mary Dick of the RTPA. “We are concerned that young, good teachers are going to leave our district if they can go next door and make $10,000 per year more.” Superintendent Kevin Brown said the district did not offer a COLA last year because it was waiting for a final budget to come down from Governor Schwarzenegger. The state budget that was passed in May did not allow for any COLA for the 2008-09 school year, Brown said, and that is why the district has offered a 3.5 percent COLA increase for the 2008-09 school year. “The teachers in Rocklin are upset and I understand that frustration, but the enemy is the State of California,” Brown said. “They are the ones that control our resources. They are the ones that are inadequately funding school districts throughout the state. There’s where the anger should be.” Dick said the RTPA is fighting for teachers to be paid retroactively for the 2007-08 school year, since that was the year the money was owed to them. “We just want what’s there,” she said. “We are not asking to bankrupt the district. We believe the district has the ability to pay.” Brown said if the district provides teachers with a salary raise for last year, then it will not have funds to offset the reduction in the state allocation this year. “We are at the mercy of whatever the state decides to give out to us each year,” Brown said. “We have no control over our income. All we can do is control expenses.” The two groups plan to meet at a “fact finding” hearing on Sept. 24 where a three-person state panel will hear arguments from both sides. “We would prefer not to go to fact finding but unfortunately we have been placed in that position,” Dick said. Brown said the RUSD will show the panel what the impact to the district would be if it gives a retroactive raise rather than trying to put it in the salary for 2008. He said the district does not have the funds to give the raise without making any cuts to important programs this year. “We didn’t lay any teachers off during the year,” he said. “We didn’t cut any budgets during the year.” The “fact-finding” panel will listen to both sides and will issue a report called the findings of fact, which could favor one side or recommend some kind of compromise but is not legally binding, Brown said. Dick said the RTPA feels the district does have the ability to give a retroactive raise since it received extra money for incoming students last year that it did not budget for. “We love our kids, we love our district,” Dick said. “This is not about ‘us and them.’ This is about us taking care of one another and being able to pay our bills so we can do our jobs.”