SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Teachers from the Evergreen School District protested ahead of a school board meeting Thursday night. They threatened to strike after stalled contract negotiations.
Tami Compton is a first grade teacher at Carolyn Clark Elementary School. She's among the 500 teachers serving a district of 10,000 students and believes she deserves more.
“Every year we are dip further into our paycheck to pay to cover the cost of insurance and the rising cost of living in Silicon Valley,” said Compton. “I am very frustrated with the pay.”
Brian Wheatley is the president of the Evergreen Teachers Association. He said the teachers only want a half percent increase in pay, more prep time and a pledge to keep class sizes down. Wheatley said the district is proposing to increase classes from 24 up to 27 students.
“We are now outside the regular negotiations in the impasse proceedings,” said Wheatley. “Unfortunately things have continued to not go well.”
The district said the teachers have received a 12.5 percent increase in the last few years and with an average salary of $95,000, they are among the highest paid teachers in the county.
Charles Crosby is a spokesman with the district. Crosby said declining enrollment is impacting revenue.
“It costs more to educate our kids and retirement takes a huge hunk out of funds,” said Crosby. “This is not an easy process for anyone. They have every right to say their peace and to speak their mind.”
With the district unwilling to budge, the teacher’s union said they're willing to strike to protect Evergreen's future.
“It’s not what any of us want to do,” said Wheatley. “We are absolutely determined to stand up for our kids. It's what teachers do.”
“In the event they do decide to strike,” said Crosby. “We will be ready. We will have people to teach. Kids will be expected to be in class.”
An independent fact finder will now review both sides this Monday and Tuesday. If no resolution is reached, the teachers union said they could strike as early as mid-October.