Oakland teachers prepare to strike Thursday

Teachers  are making preparations to go on strike Thursday. No talks are scheduled. At least not right now.

"We are waiting for the school district to bring us a proposal that really addresses dramatic changes in Oakland for our students," said Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association.

The Oakland Unified School District has said it has a new proposal. But the teachers say they haven't seen it yet.

"We hope sometime this week, before we hit Thursday, we can sit down and talk about this proposal," said school district spokesman John Sasaki.

"If it addresses dramatic changes that improves educational outcomes for our students, then we'll meet," said Brown.  

But Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said she has reason to be optimistic a strike wouldn't last long.

"I am hopeful this can remain a one-day strike," said Schaaf.

She said more state funding may be available.

"The governor's budget definitely represents an increase and possibly more resources than people were aware of initially," said Schaaf.

The teachers are asking for a 12 percent pay hike over three years, plus smaller class size and more classroom support. The district is offering five percent. The district is facing a $21 million budget deficit.

One mother of a kindergartner with special needs isn't sure about sending him to school Thursday while his regular teacher would be on a picket line, and a substitute would be in the classroom.

"My concern is new people coming in and out of the school system may be a little disruptive for him," said Bernita Askew.

The district said all schools will remain open during the strike. The city will be opening rec centers during the day as well as libraries so students won't have to cross picket lines. Some churches say they too will be open as another alternative.