Teachers and faculty union supporters marched in single-file lines outside of Santa Maria High School’s Ethel Pope Auditorium on Wednesday. They held signs printed with phrases such as “Fair Contract,” “Keep Class Sizes As Is” and “Teachers Voice Hear Us.”
The group, led by union members in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, were picketing outside the school board meeting to bring attention to contract negotiations that reached a stalemate in mid-December.
Mark Goodman, president of the teachers’ union, said faculty association and district representatives have been bargaining for more than a year but progress halted when district officials reversed aspects of a two-year deal that bargaining teams had agreed to enact Dec. 6.
“Now we’re back to square one,” Goodman said.
Square one is a district contract proposal to eliminate a 28-1 student-to-teacher hiring ratio; restructure the shared decision-making committees in place at each district school into advisory groups; and eliminate about six memorandums of understanding that determine English language coaching responsibility, faculty input in some hiring decisions and other separate employment facets.
Tanya Guiremand, a teacher at Santa Maria High School, said the changes would take away teachers’ rights to be involved in decisions about curriculum.
“It’s unfortunate because we would lose our voice,” she said.
Carl Lange, consultant to the district, said an agreement would have upheld a compromise to reverse some of the district’s original contract deletions.
He explained that the district and union discussed talking points to reach a deal and agreed Dec. 6 to draft a framework, which the board of trustees approved.
Part of the agreement was a 4-percent raise and 3-percent bonus for teachers — an increase from the district’s earlier proposal.
Lange said when he took a written version of the framework to the union, teachers halted the process because of what he considers minor changes.
“Honestly we thought that we were going to have a deal before Christmas, and when it didn’t come to pass we were disappointed,” Lange said.