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SMJUHSD teachers question timing of recruiting banner amid contract talks

Contract negotiations between the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District and its Faculty Association are at impasse and are going to a state mediator.

Some in the Faculty Association are questioning the timing of a recruiting banner now hanging outside the SMJUHSD offices on Skyway Drive.

The banner says the SMJUHSD is recruiting teachers for a salary range of between $50,000 and $102,000 for a 185-day work year along with other benefits.

The district says its a recruiting tool amid an ongoing teacher shortage in California and has nothing to do with the contract negotiations with the Faculty Association.

“The timing is a little curious, right as we’re going to impasse negotiations they decide to put this banner up”, said Faculty Association representative Matt Provost, “I’ve been at Righetti High School for 28 years, they’ve never recruited teachers this far in advance, not even close to this far advance, I mean how many teachers are out there looking for jobs?”

The SMJUHSD is offering the Faculty Association a 2% pay raise for the current 2018/19 academic year.

The Faculty Association is seeking a 3.75% raise.

“The district is getting a 3.71% increase in COLA from the state, their own budget shows they’re going to have a $10 million unrestricted reserve increase and so they’re sound financially, we’re just asking for our piece”, Provost said.

The SMJUHSD says the pay increase offer on the table is more than fair given its 400 teachers are already the highest compensated in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

The other key issue on the table is voluntary faculty transfer rights which allows teachers to transfer to another school in the district.

“They (teachers) don’t want to give up that right at all so the district wants to take that”, Provost said, “we’ve tried to compromise and come up with other solutions and give a little bit but the district seems like they don’t want to budge on that one at all.”

The SMJUHSD says the practice of voluntary transfers does not serve students in the district well and believes teachers who want to transfer should be interviewed and selected individually by department chairs and principals at the school they want to transfer to.

No date has yet been set for the contract impasse negotiations with the state mediator.

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