Hollister teachers request 4 percent raise

Second-grade teacher Kristen Damm used a 'Thinking Maps' outline to introduce herself to her class. This year marks the third year of a five year plan to implement Thinking Maps in every classroom in the district.

Hollister School District teachers are asking for a 4 percent raise, but the board president cited uncertainties with the new state funding formula and a desire to upgrade facilities in countering the proposed salary increase.
Contract negotiations for the current school year started last April when the Hollister Elementary School Teachers Association came to the table asking for a 6 percent raise this school year and a $500 increase in the district’s contributions to health and welfare, said Cheryl Rios, the association’s president.
“Unfortunately, they’ve asked for 6 percent and, for us, if we give them 6 percent we’re going to have to lay off people,” said Ben Flores, president of the district’s board of trustees. “That’s what it comes down to.”
Now the association is proposing a 4 percent increase this year and a 4 percent hike the following school year, said Rios. The district has offered a counter proposal with a 0 percent increase for this school year and a 3 percent increase next year, with contingencies based on state funding, Rios said.
“We’re just looking for restoration of what was supposedly borrowed from us in years past to get through the recession. And we’re concerned about our students and getting the highest quality teachers that they deserve,” Rios said.
California recently rolled out the Local Control Funding Formula, a new state plan that gives school districts funding based on demographic profiles of their students, with additional money given for each foster youth, economically disadvantaged student and English language learner in the district.
“We’re in uncertain times right now. The whole funding system has changed,” Flores said. “We’re not trying to hold on to money they think we have.”
But Rios argued that in the nearby King City Union School District, teachers secured a 4 percent increase in 2014-15 and a 5 percent hike in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
“That’s just one example of what other districts around us are settling for,” she said. “And our district has said repeatedly, ‘We don’t know where they’re finding the money.’ ”
The negotiations follow talks in the San Benito High School District, where teachers entered into a two-year contract in mid-October that delivered a 6 percent raise for this school year and a 4 percent raise for the next one. Under the new contract, teachers also received a $300 winter bonus both years regardless of where they were in the step and column salary schedule.
“Personally, I feel it’s spurred on from what the high school teachers negotiated for themselves,” Flores said. “They’re budgeted differently from the way we’re budgeted.”
Rios, though, said the proposal was not meant to be a match of the high school district’s negotiations and the association did not ask for any “one-time money” such as winter bonuses.
“It was looking at the numbers as we saw them in the budget and what we felt was a reasonable proposal,” Rios said.

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