Our Opinion: Another just agreement

things getting worse

May 19, 2001

There is a wave of contract agreements being approved all over the Imperial Valley. The Calexico Unified School District reached such an agreement with teachers and other staffers recently. The Brawley Public Safety Employees Association, at war with Brawley officials for what seemed like a long time, did so.

Now the Brawley Elementary School District and teachers have reached what appears to be a just agreement that recognizes the importance of teachers while assuring there is a team effort between the administration and employees.

The contract calls for a 10 percent salary increase retroactive to the start of the school year. That is a healthy increase, and making it retroactive just makes it that much more attractive. The administration showed it is willing to do what is necessary to settle the contract issue, even if it means finances are tight for awhile, to hold onto and satisfy its teachers. It also recognized an increase could help attract teachers to the district.


The people of Brawley can now be confident there is a team effort in their elementary school district. When teachers and the administration are working together, great things can happen. The district had to bite the bullet to offer such a substantive raise but the district may be better off in the long run.

That brings us back, again, to the El Centro Elementary School District, where a nearly two-year contract dispute has no end in site. Teachers in Brawley and Calexico are getting substantially bigger raises than what is being offered in the ECESD, plus those offers were fully retroactive. The school board should think about both those things.

This school year is coming to an end and ECESD students have had to go through the year without the little extras that can make the learning experience that much better, as teachers have pulled back from extra duties. We do not want to see the next school year start in the same manner. The administration and teachers have a summer in which to settle this issue, but we, and everyone else in El Centro, would like to see this mess straightened out before the kids go home for the summer.

There needs to be a compromise and there appears to be little willingness to do that on either side. And as the chasm grows, so does the rhetoric. Expect it to get even uglier because the teachers' group has called in the ruthless rhetorical guns and because district officials have not handled this matter with much class from the start.

Just when it appears things couldn't get any more rancid in the negotiating process, both sides add to the stench.

The district is now advertising in San Diego for strike-breakers/temporary teachers for the fall and is willing to pay those people big piles of cash to come here. Now there's a fine negotiating tactic. And those on the other side are digging up dirt about district officials and throwing it around.

We have said it before, but it bears repeating. Someone in the district has to show some leadership. If not, all hell will soon break lose. And yes, the kids will suffer. But so will the teachers, the administrators and the school board members.

They all need to think about that.

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