LA HABRA (CBS) — About 90 percent of La Habra City School District teachers walked picket lines today to protest a 2 percent pay reduction and cuts to health care benefits.
“We’re still trying to get firm numbers, but we think 90 percent or better honored the strike,” said Bill Guy, a spokesman for the California Teachers Association, the union that includes the La Habra Education
Talks between school district officials and the La Habra Education Association, which represents the district’s 225 teachers, failed Tuesday afternoon, prompting Wednesday’s walkout, Guy said.
Teachers were picketing in front of all of the district’s nine schools, but the largest group of teachers was at Imperial Middle School, 1450 S. Schoolwood Drive, which is next to Las Positas Elementary School, 1400 S. Schoolwood Drive.
Messages left with school district officials today were not immediately returned.
It was not known how many parents and students honored picket lines, Guy said.
“Again, we don’t have firm numbers, but anecdotally we’re hearing there are fewer students than normal,” Guy said.
Teachers Protest Cuts To Pay, Benefits In La Habra: KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports.
The district’s school board voted Nov. 18 to cut teacher salaries by 2 percent and force them to take two furlough days. The teachers will also have to help pay for some of their health insurance benefits.
Teachers earn an average salary of $63,000 with those at the top of the pay scale earning $99,000, Guy said. Teachers could lose between $14,000 to $20,000 in income from the cuts, Guy said.
“In the past when times were better we were able to pay for their health insurance, and now they’re being asked to pay for some of that,” outgoing school board president Susan Hango said Tuesday. Hango was expected to pass the gavel to another board member for the year at Thursday’s board meeting.
The “big sticking point” is the board’s insistence on making the cuts permanent, Guy said. That was also what prompted teachers in the Capistrano Unified School District to go on strike in April. That walkout lasted five days before board members agreed to revisit the cuts if the district’s fortunes
Hango said the cuts were necessary because of declining revenue from the state.
“We’re dependent on the state and you know what situation the state of California is in so we’re needing to be cost conscious,” Hango said. “We have to be very, very careful how our money is spent.”
District officials plan to have substitutes and administrators teach during the strike, Hango said.
“School should go on just the same,” she said. “The kids will have a different teacher, but a qualified teacher in each classroom.”
Hango said she hopes the teachers will reconsider.
“We’re very hopeful they’ll change their minds and not do this — it just breaks my heart,” Hango said.
District officials expect to save $220,000 over two years with the cuts.
Union leaders expect a large number of teachers to attend Thursday’s school board meeting. So far, there are not talks scheduled, Guy said.
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