Natomas District, Unions Face Off

At Issue: Labor Talks, Layoffs & Pay Raises

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Months of tumultuous labor relations between the Natomas Unified School District and both its employee groups came to a head yesterday.

In a letter to the community, interim superintendent Dr. Walt Hanline last night cited a break down in labor talks for the need to layoff more than two dozen teachers at tonight’s school board meeting.

On the agenda: cutting seven full-time physical education and three full-time visual and performing arts positions which account for all elementary school P.E. And arts classes in the district. More than 10 middle and high school P.E., arts and other teaching jobs are also slated to be cut along with nearly 20 classified employee jobs.

“My expectation was, by this late date, that we would have long since had meaningful negotiations with the NTA leadership on our proposals presented to them in August and would have looked at all of the options to address the needed loss of ongoing revenue from the State,” reads Hanline’s letter.

School board members said last year they hired Hanline for the temporary superintendent post in part for his labor negotiations experience – a task the previous superintendent Dr. Bobbie Plough told several parents in the district she did not relish.

Citing the lack of progress in negotiations with the teachers’ union, Hanline’s Feb. 27 letter says teaching positions must be eliminated to prepare for a 20 percent reduction in state education funding. He goes on to explain P.E. and art instruction will not be eliminated, but shift back to the classroom teacher. Hanline indicated a P.E. teacher would be kept on staff to train classroom teachers; the new model would eliminate prep time teachers use for their classes.

While the letter refers to the union’s request to restore salaries for classroom teachers, it did not address an increase is being considered for management employees.

Natomas Unified board members will vote tonight whether to OK retooled salary schedules as part of the district’s new management structure approved last night. If approved, management salaries will increase anywhere from $33 to $10,931, depending on the position.

NTA officials last night fired back.

“It is simply untrue that NTA refused to negotiate. We met and presented a proposal in November,” reads a statement from NTA president Kristen Rocha. “In light of the expected positive adjustment in the district’s ending balance for the next two years, NTA proposed a restoration of the salary and furlough days back to the contractual level that classrooms saw before the threat of state receivership was abated.”

Rocha said district officials propose changes to the teacher contract that are not open for negotiations according to a January 2011 agreement.

“Negotiations belong at the bargaining table,” she said. “But if the district is going to put out information to the public, it needs to at least be correct.”

The school board is also being asked to layoff several classified employees as part of a restructuring plan that eliminates some jobs while creating new positions in their place. District officials have reportedly told affected employees they would get layoff notices, but be able to apply for their job with the new title – which violates state law and the current contract with the California School Employees Association Local Chapter No. 745, union representative Omega Brewer said.

The Natomas Unified school board will meet in the Inderkum High School theater, 2500 New Market Drive. Open session is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

According to the Public Employment Relations Board, Office of the General Counsel, an informal settlement conference is scheduled later this week regarding a complaint issued in a charge filed by the Natomas Unified School District against the Natomas Teachers Association. Investigations are continuing regarding a charge filed by the Natomas Teachers Association against the school district, as well as two filed by CSEA against the district.

Letter to Staff & Community
NTA Press Release Feb 27 Response to Hanline Letter

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