The Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD), the Riverbank Teachers Association (RTA), and the Classified School Employee Association (CSEA) are still unable to agree on a contract. All parties involved have moved on from the negotiation table to impasse, which means they are now in mediation. The Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) will provide a mediator for all parties to work with to assist in coming to an agreement.
The District has offered a 5 percent salary increase for 2015-16 to both RTA and CSEA.
According to RUSD Superintendent Daryl Camp, the District views these offers as appropriate since many school districts in the area have settled for salary increases in the same range and this increase is projected to keep the District in good financial conditions for at least the next couple of school years.
According to RTA President Jim Boling, RUSD saw an 11.5 percent or a $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.
The District has also proposed to grant year for year service credit to experienced teachers who may want to teach in Riverbank in an attempt to attract new teachers. They are also trying to make a full-day kindergarten a permanent part of the educational program.
“Based on an analysis of the District’s budget, a salary increase above 5 percent would lead to a less stable budget where the school district would be spending more than it receives in the next couple of years,” added Camp. “This was the case over a number of years in the last decade when the District received less state aid due to a struggling state economy and declining enrollment.
“During that time the District had to downgrade its financial certification from 2012 to 2014 and employees consistently received layoff notices, fewer staff was employed and educational programs were eliminated or reduced.”
The RTA, on the other hand, believes the District can afford to meet the teachers’ terms.
“The district’s refusal to put the money into instructional excellence has allowed teacher salaries to fall while student achievement soars,” said Boling. “Teachers are angry and frustrated over the lack of teacher involvement in education decisions and disrespectful treatment at the bargaining table.
“Teacher morale has plummeted because RUSD chooses not to settle our contract. We believe our children and our community deserve better.”
The RTA also reported earning a ‘win’ after filing an Unfair Labor Charge with the PERB against RUSD last fall. Senior Director of Human Resources for RUSD Marcus Wirowek was found to have interfered with Boling’s legal rights. Wirowek instructed Boling not to use District email to communicate with Union Bargaining unit employees and threatened to discipline him.
RUSD, however, was found to have violated the Education Employment Relations Act, which allows District email to be used for communication regarding union communications outside working hours.
As the two sides work with the mediator in hopes of reaching a compromise, the school district will host various community meetings where members of the community can attend and engage in the conversation.
“Given the current budget situation, increasing salaries above the current offer may require that the District abandon plans to strengthen the educational program,” stated Camp. “The school district has provided and will continue to provide opportunities for all members of the community to weigh-in.
“It is easy to attend a school board meeting and make comments; however, it is much more difficult to have a conversation about what to give up when increasing salaries.”
On the other side of the issue, things are more clear cut for the employees.
“Teachers deserve better,” said Boling. “We want a contract. The district has gone through the motions of negotiating and are not showing any real intent to reach agreement.”
The next contract negotiation is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11. The next step in the negations process would be fact finding, if mediation is unsuccessful.
Upcoming, a ‘Community Conversation on District Priorities will be held at Adelante High School today, Wednesday, April 13 at 9 a.m.; Cardozo Middle School on Monday, April 18 at 3 p.m.; California Avenue on Thursday, April 21 at 2:30 p.m.; Riverbank High School on Thursday, April 21 at 3:15 p.m. in Room 101; and Mesa Verde Elementary on Thursday, April 28 at 2:45 p.m.
General Community Meetings will be held on Wednesday, April 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the District Office and Tuesday, May 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the District Office.
Members of the community are encouraged to attend the meetings and to share their thoughts.