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Contract Talks Cause Friction
The Riverbank Unified School Districts boardroom was standing room only as Riverbank teachers made their presence known at the Tuesday evening school board meeting. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS


The Riverbank Teachers Association (RTA) members made their presence known on the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 19 when they gathered at Pizza Plus in Riverbank to discuss their plan of action for negotiations with the Riverbank Unified School District. After their discussion the teachers, led by RTA President Jim Boling and Organizing chair Richard Beatty, hit the streets with signs and marched to the Riverbank Unified School District Office to have their voices heard at the regularly scheduled school board meeting.

“We are organizing the union,” said Beatty. “The teachers are in negotiations with the district and things are not going well. We have had a series of pay cuts in the past and right now in negotiations there is money coming into the district but they expect more work from us.”

“The district’s refusal to put the money into instructional excellence has allowed teacher salaries to fall while student achievement soars,” said the RTA Negotiations Chair Jim Boardman on behalf of the RTA executive board. “Riverbank Superintendent Daryl Camp and the school board have broken faith with voters, parents, students and teachers.

“They are refusing to put into the classroom the Proposition 30 money voters approved to support educational excellence. Instead, they are inflating the district’s reserve slush fund.”

Boling has been a teacher at Riverbank High School for the past 18 years and Beatty is a fourth grade teacher at California Avenue and has been with the district approximately 17 years.

Several teachers stepped up to the podium during the meeting to voice their grievances to the Board of Trustees, Suzanne Dean, Board President; Ana Vigil, Board Clerk; Elizabeth Meza, member, Susan Taylor, member, and Ernest Velasco, member and Superintendent, Dr. Camp.

In a press release issued by the RTA they listed the following, Riverbank Unified School District budgeted to increase their reserves by $1,578,772 to 30.17 percent. A 3 percent reserve is required by the state. In addition, RUSD saw an 11.5 percent or $30 million increase in funding because of the state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which calls for new monies to be spent in the classroom. Teachers are asking for a 16 percent salary increase to offset increasing health care costs and to bring salary and benefits more in line with neighboring districts. The district offer is 3 percent plus extra time worked each day, extra days worked each year and extra meetings to attend on their own time each month; which some RTA member said ultimately results in a pay cut for teachers.

Each teacher that commented had three minutes to state their case during which time Boling said the following, “I would like to implore you to please give a directive to the District staff to negotiate a fair and equitable contract with the teachers of RUSD.”

He also urged the board to consider a contract that does not call for a salary cut, a contract that is “fair and equitable compared to other districts,” and a contract that shows “pride and appreciation of the teachers who teach your children day in and day out.”

“We want to get back to the table and we want to be able to talk with the district and work out a reasonable solution to what is going on,” added Beatty.

Dr. Camp explained that the “board is confident that an agreement can be reached at the bargaining table” and has “full confidence that the District’s bargaining team will work with our professional association leadership to reach an agreement that serves students and is fair to employees.”

Look for additional articles in The News as the contract negotiations continue.