Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) and the Riverbank Teachers Association (RTA) failed to come to an agreement yet again at last week’s school board meeting and are still at the negotiations table in what could be a very long process.
The regularly scheduled meeting was supposed to be held on March 1 but due to board availability the meeting was moved to March 8 and according to RUSD Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp the meeting began at 6:15 p.m. to accommodate the board and staff.
“Per the Brown Act, laws for public boards, the notice for the March 8 meeting was provided at least 24 hours prior to the meeting,” said Camp. “In fact, the notice was posted on Saturday, March 5, 2016.”
Due to multiple requests from the teachers, the meeting was also moved to the Riverbank High School Gym to accommodate the parents, teachers, and students that were in attendance.
“Great turnout. Awesome speeches,” exclaimed Richard Beatty, RTA chair. “Love the variety of people who shared their thoughts, feelings, and concerns ... from teachers to parents to students to classified staff. The Board heard us, but it is still unclear whether they were listening.”
Jim Boling, President of the RTA, expressed heartfelt appreciation for all the parents and students that showed their love and support at the board meeting. There was, however, concern about the California Teachers Association presentation not being held at the beginning of the agenda but placed at the end of it.
“The Board refused to allow the teachers to present during the “Presentations” of the meeting,” stated Beatty. “They kept our presentation at the end when they knew most of the people would be gone.
“Parents in particular are really fired up, especially after seeing for themselves the rude behavior exhibited by certain members of the school board.”
Superintendent Camp explained that there are only a few requirements related to how items are arranged on the agenda and there have been presentations, information, and discussion items at different times in the agenda.
California Teachers Association (CTA) representative Steve Miller presented a PowerPoint presentation of the district’s financial situation to the public and trustees where he stated that RUSD has millions in the Local Control Funding Formula and a reserve of over 30 percent.
“The CTA presentation did not fully represent the District’s financial circumstances,” countered Camp.
Parents collected 150 signatures petitioning the board to settle the contract with the teachers. There were several teachers and students that addressed the board with their concerns about the negotiations.
With the teachers lowering their demands and the school district slightly increasing their offer, the negotiations will continue and another roundtable discussion was set for Tuesday, March 15, after The News went to press.
“We are asking for a fair contract that will enable Riverbank to keep and attract good teachers to our city,” said Boling. “The district has not offered to bring us up from the bottom of the county in salary or benefits as of yet. This saddens us greatly to say the least. There are a lot of districts smaller than ours that have better salary and benefits and our district/board appear to not care if teachers leave to go to those other districts.”
Less than four years ago, Camp explained, the District was on the brink of insolvency and due to the passage of Proposition 30 and an improving state economy, RUSD received more funds than during previous years. He added that the funds allowed the district to invest in the students along with staff that benefited in the 2014-15 school year, allowing the district to restore school days for students and professional days for staff one year earlier than expected.
“The negotiation process is still underway and I’m still confident that an agreement will be reached through the process,” stated Camp. “The latest proposal and all the proposals shared by the District and the Riverbank Teachers Association are on the District’s website.”