CAMPBELL, Calif. - Teachers in the Campbell Union High School District picketed Thursday night ahead of a school board meeting demanding a cost of living raise.
They carried signs and black balloons meant to symbolize a dark cloud hanging over the district.
"I feel angry and I feel not valued," said Teacher Rebecca Gilmore.
Gilmore is not happy with contract negotiations.
"My husband and I are still relatively young," said Gilmore. "We still cannot buy our own home. We cannot start a family."
The teachers association and district are at an impasse. The union said its latest proposal is a permanent $5,000 increase plus four percent per year.
The union claims the district has $48 million in reserves.
"We have a school district that is operating more like a corporation or a bank hanging onto millions of dollars in reserves," said Campbell High School Teachers Association President Kim McCarthy.
"Negotiations are complex, it is really expensive to live here in this Valley," said Kalen Gallagher, Campbell Union High School District Board President.
However, the school board president contends if they give teachers what they are proposing, there’s a projected budget deficit in three years that could lead to cuts to programs.
"We’ve also done things like try to pass parcel tax in the past, unfortunately those have not passed," said Gallagher. "We tried to rent out leftover property we have to try and bring more money in."
"Give the incredible teachers of this district what they deserve," said Senior James Gardner. "This is embarrassing."
Students and teachers packed the board meeting. Earlier during school hours, students participated in a walk-out. Senior Isha Chander said it’s been a difficult year.
"I honestly think people don’t realize that transitioning back into in person learning is harder than teaching virtually," said Chander.
The teacher’s union said a recent survey found 60 out of the 400 teachers in the district are considering leaving.
Gilmore is one of them. She loves teaching at the high school she went to but is reviewing her options.
"There are other high schools around here that are hiring," said Gilmore. "There are other districts to go. There are other opportunities for teachers outside of the classroom."
The district and teacher’s union are working with a state-appointed mediator. Their next meeting is on November 15. The starting pay for a teacher in the district is $59,000.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.