Money, honey. Even as Escondido Union School District (EUSD) elementary and middle school teachers were griping about salaries 20 percent lower than they believe they should be, their high school counterparts were engaged in a heated dispute with their school board. over pay and pension funding.
Elementary and middle school teachers, many dressed in powder blue EEEA (Escondido Elementary Educators Association) T-shirts packed the EUSD Board’s Jan. 14 meeting loudly lambasting Board members over the salary issue during an hourlong public comments session that was part of a six-hour meeting.
The situation may even be more contentious between high school teachers and the Escondido Union High School District’s Board of Trustees. Tempers were reaching a boiling point this month in the ongoing salary increase dispute between Escondido Union High School District’s 365 teachers and the EUHSD Board.
The teachers union has asked for a 4 percent salary increase while the Board has countered with a 2 percent raise offer. An even greater divide exists over district contributions to teacher pensions.
The district want teachers to contribute more to the pension fund as school districts across the state face tough pension funding times. Districts were expected to need to triple the funding for teacher pensions in the next five years.
Union officials said members would picket outside the home of each high school board member on Jan. 12.
Allen Pope, husband of EUHSD Board President Tina Pope, issued a letter strongly criticizing such a move, saying, it was “a personal attack on me and my family in which I guarantee you will not like my response,” adding, “If you involve me and bring your issues to my personal space, then I have every right to enter your personal space.”
Tina pope said her husband sent out the letter without her knowledge. In any event, there was no picketing event. Union leaders called off the picketing. Union President Tom Gabriella said the letter caused his negotiating team to “fear for their safety.”
Gabriella added: “We’re at this point in the contract talks (where) things are not going smoothly..”
Union leaders were scheduled to meet with Anne Staffieri, EUHSD assistant superintendent of human resources on Jan. 25. Staffieri, who said she hadn’t seen Allen Pope’s letter, was quoted as saying, “Both parties are engaged in good faith negotiations.”