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Voice: Time to compensate EC Elementary staff

April 12, 2001

When the El Centro Elementary School District doesn't have money, the employees of the district don't ask for much of a pay raise. When the district does have the money, it should compensate its staff.

I read with dismay about the ugly contract negotiations again tearing apart the El Centro Elementary School District. This has created an unhealthy atmosphere within the elementary district. On those occasions when I have met an elementary teacher and innocently asked, "How's it going?" Whoa Nellie! Back up and bar the door! They are not happy and they're glad to tell you about it.

They feel they are getting little support from the district, they are not respected, and their efforts are not being recognized. When the district and award-winning superintendent go after new grants such as the new VIPS science program or the new reading assessment program, RESULTS, these place an additional workload on the teachers, an additional workload the teachers accept.


When all 11 schools within the district are recognized as qualifying for the state's academic performance awards, the classroom teachers and soon-to-be laid off classroom aides have much to do with their schools' success.

There have been times when the teachers and classified employees have recognized the district as having financial problems and curtailed their negotiations demands. A number of years ago the district was confronted with an expensive lawsuit. The teachers and classified did not ask for much of a raise, as they knew the district was throwing much of its money into defending itself in court. In years when the state economy was in bad shape and schools were not receiving as much money from the state, again the teachers and classified limited their negotiations requests.

Now that the district administrators and school board have the money, the district is unwilling to recognize teacher efforts as the vast majority of school districts have done throughout the state. If you want to hold onto and attract new teachers, pay them while you can.

As a teacher and former school board member, I have seen this type of conflict from both sides, a conflict that has seemingly been a continual story within the elementary district throughout much of the 1990s and now into the early 2000s, a conflict that should be settled as quickly as possible. Enough damage has been done.


El Centro

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