Rowland teachers have declared an impasse in the stalled contract negotiations with the Rowland Unified School District. The Association of Rowland Educators is asking the state to send in a mediator to handle further negotiations. “We’re filing the paperwork now to declare an impasse with the state,” said ARE President John Petersen on Monday.
Union officials say the contract talks broke down during the eighth bargaining session last Thursday. In an email to teachers, Nadine Loza, bargaining chair, explained what happened.
“The ARE bargaining team was disappointed (but not surprised) when the district presented their counterproposal after lunch. The district’s proposal was not significantly different from their last proposal. Overall, the district has not moved significantly from their initial proposal especially on critical issues like salary, benefits, planning time, adjunct duties and combo classes.”
District officials were surprised by the sudden impasse, but they say they remain open to fair negotiations with the union’s 700 members.
“We’re still committed to negotiating with them in good faith,” said Superintendent Ruben Frutos.
Both sides say pay raises remain the largest stumbling block. The teachers want a 10 percent pay raise next year, the district has offered 2.5 percent the first year and 2 percent the next.
“Originally, the teachers wanted a 12 percent raise, 6 percent the first year, then 6 percent the second,” recalled Assistant Superintendent Douglas Staine. “We were surprised when they changed to 10 percent for one year.”
Rowland Unified had originally offered a 3.5 percent raise, 1.75 percent the first year and the same the second year.
Staine estimates a 10 percent raise would cost the district $6.7 million a year in additional payroll. The director of human resources noted that salaries already consume more than 85 percent of the district’s yearly budget.
“I won’t get into specific (salary) figures because that makes negotiations very difficult,” Petersen said. “But I have all the facts and figures that prove our teachers are paid much less than other school districts.”
The teachers’ union says it only wants parity. Beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience earn an annual salary of $45,180 at Rowland, which is ranked 18th out of 47 school districts in a salary survey from the Los Angeles County Office of Education for 2012-2013.
District officials say such comparisons are misleading because the vast majority of their teachers are at the top end of the pay scale. When asked for a salary analysis, they provided this information.
More than 20 percent of Rowland instructors earn $80,000 to $90,000 a year. They would get close to $9,000 more with a 10 percent raise, bringing them to almost $100,000 a year.
Another 37 percent receive $70,000 to $80,000, meaning that 57 percent of the teaching staff earns more than $70,000 a year now.
More than a quarter of the instructors (27 percent) earn from $60,000 to $70,000, while 9 percent get $50,000 to $60,000. Only 6 percent of the teachers make $40,000 to $50,000.
Overall, the average teacher earns $71,484.77 a year in Rowland Unified, according to district officials.
“We want to pay our teachers well, so we offered them a raise we could afford in our budget,” Staine said.
Superintendent Frutos pointed out the school district has been running a $1-2 million deficit in past years. He anticipates another deficit when the final figures are tallied this year. Click HERE for entire online story. For copy of the print version, click PDF below.