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Santa Barbara Teachers Association members rally again

Teachers rally one more time before contract Fact Finding hearing

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-A majority of drivers honked their horns in support of teacher rallying on every corner of Santa Barbara and De La Guerra Streets in Santa Barbara before Tuesday's Santa Barbara Unified School Board meeting.

 Teachers and union workers held signs along Santa Barbara Street and chanted "Teachers say fair pay."

Supervisor-Elect Roy Lee also grabbed a sign to join them.

Lee said he stood with teachers before his election and remembered some of his favorite teachers including Mr. Lenker, his English teacher at Dos Pueblos High.

Instead of handmade signs, most of the teachers held bilingual orange signs that read "Educators Fighting For The Schools Our Students Deserve!" and "Strike Ready."

They want people to know they will be without a contract at the end of the end of June if their mediation doesn't lead to a resolution.

Their representatives will meet with district representatives and a neutral party at a Fact Finding talk on Wednesday, June 12.

Teacher and union representative said that is when La Cuesta and Alta Vista graduations will take place together at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Garden.

"We have one of our teachers who want go to graduation because she has to be at Fact Finding. They knew the dates, they set the dates so yeah it makes it even more important to be here."

The majority of high school graduations begin on Thursday.

The neutral party has been reviewing the district budget.

The district has offered a 9 percent raise the first year, followed by 4 percent raise.

Teachers said they want 15 percent the first year, followed by 8 percent the next year.

They said they are fighting for wages to live in Santa Barbara one of the most expensive communities to live in along the coast.

Teachers holding rally signs said salaries range from $56,000 for starting teachers to $100,000 for those with the most experience.

They said districts in more affordable to live areas pay more.

Shelly Stehmeier, who teaches Special Education in the Fillmore School District recently married a Santa Barbara math teacher.

She said she makes more event though he has taught a decade more than she has.

Some teachers said they commute from Oxnard and are sometimes late to class due to problems or accidents on the 101 freeway.

They love their kids and for that reason said the commute is worth it.

SBUSD's Chief of Communications Ed Zuchelli shared the following statement:

"We recognize and value the teachers union's right to use all avenues provided during labor negotiations to ensure they are compensated at the highest possible salary. We have seen and heard teachers come to the District's board meetings expressing concerns over the recent impact of inflation, increased housing costs, and the general cost of living in Santa Barbara as profoundly impacting their daily lives. On June 12th, a Fact Finding hearing will be held in which a neutral party reviews the district budget. The process provides both parties with an objective view of what is fiscally sustainable and affordable. We are committed to reaching an agreement, keeping schools open, and letting fiscal facts lead our negotiations."

The hearing will begin in the same room as the school board meeting where teachers and students shared their thoughts and concerns during the public comments.

One young man said he wants to be a teacher like his mother but won't consider teaching in Santa Barbara if he can't make a good wage.

Another student talked about the importance of teachers in the classroom.

The Fact Finding hearing and negotiation has a 24 hours limit.

But it could lead to a new contract just in time for graduation celebrations.

If not, findings will be published and teachers, who voted to authorize a strike in the new school year, will prepare to take action in the summer or fall.

Article Topic Follows: News
Santa Barbara
Teacher strikes

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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