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Teacher salary issue heats up

first_imgTeacher salary negotiations in both Glendale and Burbank are becoming contentious, with unions looking to reclaim raises they had forgone in years past in a year of budget windfalls. In Glendale, some 300 teachers marched through downtown Thursday as they picketed the Glendale Unified School District in pursuit of a 12.6 percent raise. The teachers, wearing florescent green T-shirts and buttons proclaiming “It’s Double-Digit Time,” paraded down Brand Boulevard, ending their march at district headquarters. Union leaders said it’s a fair increase after several lean years, while the GUSD countered with about a 5.1 percent jump. While negotiations are ongoing, meeting the union’s demands would require some $20 million, she said. The district has other expenses, including utilities and supplies, while contending with declining enrollment, McMullen said. The 28,000-student district’s enrollment dropped by 800 last year, with more expected this year. The state pays the district about $5,510 per pupil per year. Meanwhile, talks between teachers and management in the Burbank Unified School District have become strained after the two sides reached an apparent impasse last week. The state Public Employee Relations Board, which is reviewing the BUSD’s case, could order both sides back to the table or appoint a mediator when they make a ruling in coming days. “It’s never futile to talk,” said Gabe Soumakian, the BUSD’s assistant superintendent of human resources. “But I think they have to reconsider the offer they put on the table and make a realistic offer we can work with.” The Burbank Teachers Association wants an increase for 2006-07 that would bolster its 800 members at least above the median salaries for Los Angeles County teachers – $2,000-$4,000 a year depending on experience and position. BTA co-President Kim Allender said the district’s appeal to the relations board surprised him. “We told them we thought an impasse was premature because progress had been made at the table every session,” he said. “Although progress was slow, there was definitely progress.” The BUSD also will enjoy a windfall from Sacramento – an estimated $4 million for the 15,000-student district. But administrators need to plan ahead, Soumakian said. “You can’t just think about this year,” he said. “You have to think about the impact the raises have the following two years.” Allender, who wants the district to include the union’s input in budgeting, said they’re not backing down. “The thinking that somehow we’re going to acquiesce, that we’re going to come to terms quicker – in no way are we afraid of an impasse,” he said. “We’re not afraid of mediation.” eugene.tong@dailynews.com (818) 546-3304160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “There’s a general feeling for teachers everywhere that we’ve had a tough time the last five years,” said Allen Freemon, president of the Glendale Teachers Association, which represents about 1,400 instructors, counselors, librarians and others. “This year, the revenues have increased significantly, and it’s time to be recognized for a job well done,” he said. Freemon said teachers’ salaries lost ground after 2001 when the state’s budget shortfalls cut into public-school funding. In the past five years, the union has settled for a total of 7 percent in raises, while inflation rose 17 percent over the same period. This year, the GUSD is expecting up to $12 million in ongoing new revenue under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006-07 budget – an amount that covers only the 5 percent raise now on the table from the district, said Cathy McMullen, assistant superintendent of human resources. last_img read more