OAKHURST — After eight hours in mediation on Tuesday, May 24, members of the Bass Lake Teachers Association (BLTA) and the Bass Lake Joint Union School District (BLSD) came to a tentative agreement on their contract for the current school year, reportedly winding up back where they began their negotiations. Classes in the District end on June 8.
“The teachers decided it was in the best interest of students and teachers to reach a settlement,” says Tim McGrew, Oak Creek Intermediate teacher and lead negotiator for the union. “We wanted to end the year on a positive note and focus the last few days of school on students celebrating their successes this year rather than continuing a labor dispute.”
McGrew says teachers are disappointed they were unable to reach a multi-year agreement with the District, and they’ll be back at the table in the fall to negotiate a contract for 2016-17 school year. One point of contention was the District’s plan to continue the practice of filing a request for exemption from adhering to code related to the percentage of budget spent on salaries and benefits for teachers and aides.
“We were not able to make progress on the exemption issue and still feel the district is not making the classroom the top priority,” says representative McGrew.
The most notable parts of the tentative agreement, according to BLTA, are a 4% raise, a 1.5% one-time payment, and a restructuring of their salary scale. BLTA has 44 members in a district that includes Oak Creek Intermediate, Wasuma and Oakhurst Elementaries, and Fresno Flats Day School.
“The raise is a step in the right direction when it comes to compensation, but the board and district appear committed to not spending 60 percent of the budget on teachers and aides salaries and benefits as the education code stipulates. We would like for that money to be spent on more teachers and aides as well as competitive salaries.”
BLTA members will vote on the tentative agreement Wednesday, Jun. 1 in a meeting scheduled for 3:15 p.m.
BLSD Superintendent Glenn Reid says that if the teachers ratify the agreement, the board will then ratify the agreement.
McGrew reaffirms that negotiations for the next school year will resume where they left off, when classes are back in session.
“We will take this issue up again at the start of the new school year and hope parents and the community will continue to stand in support of our efforts.”
The next regularly scheduled Board Meeting of the Bass Lake School District is also set for Wednesday, Jun. 1 later in the day, at 6 p.m. in the computer lab at Oak Creek Intermediate school.