Monday, April 12, 2010

Capistrano Unified School District student walkout discussed

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Parents mull ’student strike’ agains Capo cuts
By PAUL ANDERSON, City News Service
April 8, 2010

SANTA ANA — Some parents in the Capistrano Unified School District are planning to hold their children out of school next week in an attempt to encourage school board members to resume negotiations with the union representing the district’s teachers.

An e-mail is being forwarded among parents encouraging them to hold their children out of school Tuesday, the same day school board members will next meet and two days before teachers union members will discuss the possibility of authorizing a strike.

School board members voted March 31 to cut off negotiations with the Capistrano Unified Education Association and impose 10.1 percent pay cuts for teachers. That provoked about 200 Dana Hills High School students to stage a half-hour walkout April 1 and has led to the proposed parents boycott Tuesday.

“I’m going to drop off my kids at the school board offices. They can personally educate my children because that’s their responsibility,” said Lisa Bethune, a Ladera Ranch parent who has two children at Oso Grande Elementary School.
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Another parent said she’s “planning on participating because I support the teachers 100 percent.”

“If there’s anything we can do to get them to negotiate again I want to do it,” said Shelly Ehler, a substitute teacher who does not belong to the union but has two sons, one in second grade at Oso Grande and another in pre- kindergarten at Carl Hankey Elementary Union spokeswoman Vicki Soderberg said she appreciated the parents’ efforts.

“We do want parental support, but whether parents keep their kids at home or not it’s their choice, but what we’d really like is to have lots of parents at the school board meeting that night,” Soderberg said...

The most recent slashing of teachers’ salaries and benefits will save the district about $19.9 million, according to district spokeswoman Julie Hatchel. However, the district still needs to close a $34 million gap.

Bryson pointed out school administrators took a 10 percent pay cut last year, but because that only affects about 150 workers school leaders needed to extract savings at the expense of the district’s 2,500 teachers...

A sticking point in negotiations with the union was the board’s refusal to increase class sizes.

“We were elected on maintaining class sizes,” Bryson said. “Our constituents have let us know for three and a half years that they do not want to see it. It has to be the last thing we let go of.”

Bryson pointed out that the school board’s refusal to boost class sizes saved the jobs of 69 teachers...

Soderberg said the union has no problem with pay cuts.

“We’re willing to help out — that’s not the issue,” Soderberg said.

The issue is whether the cuts are permanent or temporary...

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