Desert Sands Unified School District teachers outraged over what they feel is a low-ball contract offer from the district.
“They say we’re no longer going to negotiate,” said Scott McGihon, teacher at John Glenn Middle School.
One of the biggest points of contention is the district’s proposed two percent salary increase.
“What they’re offering is so far below neighboring districts it just seems completely unfair to us,” said Mona Davidson, president of the Desert Sands Teachers’ Association.
“It doesn’t feel like I’m valued,” said Trina Alesi, teacher at Amelia Earhart Elementary School.
“We know they have the money it’s just the priorities,” said John Lienhard, teacher at Indio High School.
The district offered a proposal for an additional four percent raise. But in order to tap into grant funds for the salary increase, the district says it would have to show the money was being used to increase and improve services for students.
“A 30-minute increase in the school day would accomplish that so our last offer was six percent at the table,” said Sherry Johnstone, Assistant Superintendent at DSUSD.
“Anyone who can do math knows that when you take a seven-hour day and add a half hour, you’ll know they’re offering less than what we’re currently making,” McGihon said.
Teachers in DSUSD once ranked 12th in Riverside County in salary. Today they come in 24th, behind both PSUSD and CVUSD.
The superintendent, Dr. Gary Rutherford, is the third highest paid superintendent in the county.
As of Feb. 4, his salary will increase by five percent to more than $250,000 per year.
“He’s getting paid more than the Vice President. And they’re offering two percent to the teachers? I don’t know how that can be fair,” Alesi said.
“We work our butts off and for them to give us a salary that’s below our current rate is offensive,” McGihon said.
The next step is for the state to review the case and decide whether the district and teachers can work it out themselves, or whether to send in a third party to moderate negotiation.
“We’re not pushing away from the table, we want to get closer to making a deal,” Johnstone said.