Guest View: Yuba City teachers seek respect and fair negotiations

posted Mar 6, 2016, 10:20 AM by Yuba City Teachers Association

Yuba City Teachers Association Executive Board

We, the teachers of Yuba City, have been asking the Yuba City Unified School District to value us and respect us for years. You may see our signs around town — on cars, businesses, and front lawns — or even groups of teachers holding our signs in front of their school sites or out in the community.

We would like our community to know that we do feel respected in our classrooms by our students and their families. We are exceedingly grateful for the support and respect of our community. Thank you to our friends, neighbors, and local businesses who are displaying our signs of support and to all those who join us at school board meetings to show support for teachers.

We do not, however, feel respected by our district or the Yuba City Unified School Board.

We strive to build a relationship of trust and respect with our students because we know they will thrive in that environment. For Yuba City Teachers Association members, students are at the center of everything we do. We have devoted our lives to serving our students and to making a difference in our community. Our district has failed to build a collaborative, respectful climate that values the contributions of teachers to the educational success of students. A sure sign of respect is a fair contract that will help attract and retain the best teachers for Yuba City students. We want good faith bargaining and productive negotiations to reach a settlement that values and respects teachers.

Despite a 42 percent increase in the district's total revenue over the last four years, Yuba City Unified has failed to come to the bargaining table with a proposal that would allow them to attract and retain highly qualified teachers. Two years ago, after years of bargaining, YCUSD did increase salaries for teachers. Despite those increases, however, the average teacher's salary for Yuba City still lags 13.4 percent behind the state average. The administrators were awarded the same salary increase moving their salaries even further above the state average. The superintendent's annual salary has ballooned to $229,630 (more than a $29,000 increase from 2012). Competitive salaries are essential to attracting and retaining great administrators and great teachers.

There is a problem attracting and retaining teachers in Yuba City. This school year alone, there have been as many as 26 positions left unfilled or filled by employees who do not have full credentials — this means that every day there are students in Yuba City classrooms being taught by substitute teachers or interns instead of those with full credentials. A fourth of our teachers have three or fewer years in the district; this number is greater than the number of experienced teachers who retired in the last several years. Teachers know the best way to improve student learning is to employ a quality teacher in every classroom.

We want to thank all the parents and community members who have supported us. Thank you for telling us you understand that teachers continue to spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets for their students and classrooms. Thank you for recognizing the time we devote to our work and our students daily. The YCUSD School Board may talk about our "seven hour" work day, but if they paid attention, they would know our work does not end when the bell rings and our students leave our classrooms. We continue working into the night and over the weekends to do what we know is necessary to help our students succeed.

We invite you to stand with us on Tuesday, March 8 at 5 p.m. for the YCUSD School Board meeting as we continue to pursue a fair contract and a better future for our community. Visit ycta.net or our Facebook page for more information.

This column was submitted by the Yuba City Teachers Association Executive Board:

Dina Luetgens, YCTA president and YCHS teacher since 1990

Lee Gundy, YCTA vice-president and Gray Avenue teacher since 2008

Lisa Hale, YCTA secretary and YCIA teacher since 1996

Josh Roberts, YCTA treasurer and YCHS teacher since 2005

Paula Manning, YCTA benefits chair and AKS Teacher since 1989

Ursula Towne, YCTA organizing chair and Lincrest teacher since 1997

Carl Knorr, YCTA membership chair and AKS teacher since 1998

The content of this column was approved on Feb. 22 by the YCTA Representative Council with members from every YCUSD site.

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