Thursday, January 18 , 2018, 11:21 pm | Fair 56º


Santa Maria High School Teachers Meeting With Parents Gets Heated

Faculty union and district still haven't ratified employment contract as the matter goes to a fact-finding panel

Andrew Oman from the California Teachers Association facilitates the parents meeting for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Faculty Association.
Andrew Oman from the California Teachers Association facilitates the parents meeting for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Faculty Association.            (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Emotions spilled over during a parents meeting hosted by the Santa Maria high school district teachers union Wednesday night as members argued about the reasons at the heart of the labor dispute.

For the second time in a month, the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Faculty Association held a meeting for parents, urging them to tell board members and the superintendent to settle the teacher contract. 

A majority of the Faculty Association members rejected the contract offered by the district at the end of a 14-hour fact-finding session.

Union leaders say the spat isn’t about money, but a member spoke out Wednesday night claiming otherwise. 

“I think the parents also should know that when we say this isn’t about money it continues to seem to be about money,” said Glenn Goldin, a special education teacher at Santa Maria High School. “So do yourselves a favor and look at the salary schedules up the road at Lucia Mar (Unified School District) where this year I’ll make $24,000 more than they do in Lucia Mar.”

“You guys need to know he does not speak for anybody but himself,” an audience member said.

“No, I think I speak for the 133 people that voted for the contract,” Goldin said. 

During voting earlier this month, a total of 318 ballots were cast with 183 votes, or 42 percent, against ratifying the tentative agreement, compared to 42 percent yes votes. Two blank ballots were submitted.

Goldin urged people to go to the district website to read documents regarding contract negotiations, contending the union was giving misinformation. 

Other union members said the dispute centered on a lack of respect, removal of preparation periods, larger class sizes and more.

Margaret Rucker, a math teacher at Righetti High School, said she taught in the Lucia Mar district which serves communities between Pismo Beach and Nipomo.

“You know what, they do get paid less. But do you know what else? They get to vote for their department chairs and they do get more respect than we have been currently getting in the last year,” she said.

“I get my respect when I get my paycheck. That’s when I feel respected,” Goldin said. 

“In my opinion, it’s sad that all you base it on is money,” Rucker added. “Because, for me, teaching is more than the money. Teaching is about standing  up for your students … This about me losing voice and not being able to speak up and defend my students.”

Faculty Association Mark Goodman said the union is fighting for a few issues, one of which involves money.  

“More than any other year that I’ve worked here, this is not about money,” said Goodman, who was not re-elected to lead the union for another year in a recent vote. The new president takes office Sept. 1.

With the contract not ratified, both sides now await the report from the three-member fact-finding panel, said Andrew Oman of the California Teachers Association.

Both sides could negotiate further, he said, or the district could impose its “last, best and final offer” made even before a state mediator attempted to resolve the dispute.. 

The district also could impose the terms of the fact-finding panel’s report. 

Both sides will meet once the report is released to try to come to an agreement.

Once the report comes out, it remains confidential and is only available to the negotiating teams, he said. However, it will become public after 10 days, unless an agreement is reached.

The union would be “strike legal” after the 10-day period is over, Oman said.

“It’s important to note that teachers do not want a strike,” he added. “Really, nobody wants a strike. Unfortunately, sometimes people are put in a position where they make a decision that going on strike is better than the options that are in front of them.”

Union leaders urged parents and community members to contact the five board members to urge them to settle the teacher contract, handing out a flier with phone numbers and email addresses.

“For years now in this district, we’ve been spending a lot of time fighting. We’ve been spending a lot of time and energy — the teachers on one side, the administrators on the other side. I think everybody in the room can agree that is not good for anybody,” Oman said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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