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Rocklin teachers strike still looming

Parents show support
By: Brody Fernandez, Lead Reporter for South Placer
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“One percent can’t pay the bills” was the sentiment (and a sign) Wednesday as more than 100 parents took to the streets at nearly every Rocklin elementary school before heading to the district office to protest in support of Rocklin teachers getting fair wages.

A strike is now looming, according to members from the Rocklin Teachers Professional Association, which includes all elementary and high schools in the city of Rocklin (more than 12,000 students).
If negotiations fall through with the Rocklin Unified School District, the Rocklin teachers are prepared to walk out and strike. This would leave thousands of students without primary teachers, as the emergency substitute teachers are already in place if the strike occurs, according to district officials.

As reported by Gold Country Media on Aug. 17 (front page, “Rocklin teachers might strike”) requests Rocklin teachers are holding out on include fair access to special education curriculum, adequate safety training for students, and a 2.5 percent increase in salary and benefits.

“We are very grateful and encouraged by the significant support of our parents and students,” said Rocklin Teachers Professional Association President Colleen Crowe about the support parents showed at the district office on Wednesday. “We hope that this will encourage a fair settlement from the district. We all want to maintain the high quality of education in our community and special ed language, safety language and fair compensation is important to providing the best education we can as well as attract and retain that high- quality employee.”

Parents talked to Gold Country Media about why they were at the district office in support of the teachers.

“When my wife was hired here at the district in 2000/2001 as a teacher, they were among the highest-paid teachers in the state,” said parent Jason Krasner. “Now, they are among the lowest paid. That’s just flat-out wrong.”

Amanda Yamamoto was concerned for her son, who has an individual education plan (IEP), in case teachers strike.

“My first concern is what happens with his IEP if the teachers strike? Who is going to know how to help him when he has a panic attack due to his severe anxiety disorder? My only choice will be to call him in sick or risk undoing everything that he has worked so hard to overcome with his current primary teacher. I pray it doesn’t come to a strike,” Yamamoto said. “Most of the parents I’ve spoken with who have special needs kids say their kids will not go to school if there is a strike.”

Cobblestone Elementary Site Council President Tami Seigal, a Rocklin school board candidate, had another perspective.

“District leaders sure know how to paint a pretty public picture,” Seigal said. “But it’s all a cover up for utter disregard for safe and fair working conditions for our teachers. Parents and teachers are fed up.”

The Rocklin Unified School District’s spokeswoman Diana Capra released a statement to Gold Country Media on Wednesday, the morning of the marched parent protest: “The Rocklin Unified School District and Rocklin Teachers Professional Association are scheduled to meet again for a bargaining session on Friday (Aug. 31). We think the impartial fact-finding report’s recommendations is a good basis for agreement. The next step is to meet and work together to find a fair agreement so we can refocus our collective attention back on the 12,000 students and families we serve. The neutral person who authored the report was chosen by both the district and the teachers’ union leadership. This impartial chairperson scrutinized the district’s finances as well as both the teachers’ union leadership’s offer and the district offers and came up with what he thought was a fair settlement and what the district could afford. We honored those impartial fact-finding recommendations.”