Teacher Contract Negotiations Continue

nick johnson, staff writer

The Acalanes Education Association (AEA) teacher’s union is bogged down in negotiations with the Acalanes Union High School District over contract conditions for the next school year.

It is the teacher union’s job to negotiate with the school district on contract terms on behalf of the teachers. Each school year, the union negotiates with the district on the contract that its members (teachers) will work under for the next year.

Math teacher Ken Ingersoll represents Campolindo teachers in the discussions with the school district. He said that the discussions this year have been especially difficult because the state government is reducing funding to the Acalanes Union High School District. “Because we’re a high performing district and have an affluent community surrounding each of our schools, the amount of money that the state passes down to us is smaller than other districts.” he said.

At the 4 AUHSD schools, not as many students have English as a second language or students who take advantage of a free or reduced cost lunch, so the state decided that the district does not need as much monetary aid as other districts, according to Ingersoll.

The union and the school district have already met 18 times this school year and have yet to reach an agreement, according to Ingersoll. “An agreement has to eventually be reached, but from a negotiating standpoint, we have to be able to bring a contract to our members that they will be willing to vote for. There has to be something in it for them besides the bare minimum,” he said.

“The AEA is trying to get a cost of living allowance into the contract. The district is saying that in these tough times, they don’t have a lot more to give. What it boils down to is that both groups are between a rock and a hard place,” said Video Production teacher Justin Seligman, who is a representative for the teacher’s union.

Seligman also said that many temporary and probationary teachers are being let go as another strategy for dealing with the funding deficit. Probationary teachers are teachers who have worked in the district for less than three years. “That is a tactic that the district has been using more and more,” he said.

The Acalanes Union High School District has declined to comment to La Puma on the negotiations until Thursday.

Seligman said that the school district has put language into their layoff notices regarding skipping seniority. When announcing layoffs, the district is required by law to take into account teachers  seniority. For example, if there are two teachers the district is considering laying off, they should lean towards keeping the teacher that has been at the school longer. Teaching experience at other districts does not matter.  However, the district has already lost a court case regarding seniority, where the court ruled that skipping seniority is illegal.