River­bank Teach­ers Air Con­tract Concerns

Riverbank News - - FRONT PAGE - By MARG JACKSON mjack­son@oak­dale­leader.com

In a let­ter be­ing de­liv­ered to res­i­dents in the River­bank Uni­fied School Dis­trict, teach­ers un­happy with the sta­tus of the cur­rent con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions are tak­ing their case to the pub­lic.

“As you may know, about 10 to 20 per­cent of the teach­ers in River­bank are leav­ing the dis­trict,” the let­ter, ad­dressed to “Dear River­bank Com­mu­nity” starts out. “They are leav­ing for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, but mainly be­cause the River­bank Dis­trict Of­fice and School Board are not do­ing their part to keep them here. Other dis­tricts are do­ing things to re­tain and at­tract teach­ers, River­bank seems set on push­ing them away.”

River­bank Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Jim Bol­ing said while many dis­tricts lose a teacher or two – and River­bank usu­ally has that many leave each year due to re­tire­ment or ac­cept­ing po­si­tions with other dis­tricts – this year’s loss is much higher.

“As for an ex­act num­ber of teach­ers leav­ing ... it is con­stantly chang­ing as teach­ers are finding po­si­tions ... al­most daily,” said Bol­ing. “I only know of two teach­ers that have

turned in re­tire­ment pa­pers thus far, so by far ... the vast majority are leav­ing be­cause of the way they are be­ing treated.”

Bol­ing added that with an es­ti­mated 125 teach­ers in the dis­trict, he knows of 12 al­ready that will be leav­ing for other dis­tricts, or roughly 10 per­cent of the to­tal.

“In years past we might get one or two that leave for an­other dis­trict. Very rare. So more than 10 per­cent for our small dis­trict is pretty sub­stan­tial,” he said.

The dis­trict and teach­ers as­so­ci­a­tion could not reach agree­ment on a con­tract and it has gone to im­passe, re­quir­ing out­side as­sis­tance to com­plete the ne­go­ti­a­tions. Teach­ers de­vel­oped the let­ter as a way to get what they feel is per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion out to the city res­i­dents. The let­ter is writ­ten in both Eng- lish and Span­ish.

“You may also know that there is a teacher short­age. Cal­i­for­nia is es­pe­cially hard hit. As teach­ers leave River­bank, it is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to re­place them. River­bank is sim­ply not com­pet­i­tive with other dis­tricts. Any teacher look­ing for work is only go­ing to choose River­bank as a last re­sort,” the let­ter states.

Bol­ing and teach­ers as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers said they need to see change and are look­ing for help in achiev­ing that goal.

“The River­bank teach­ers are ask­ing the com­mu­nity to join with them to try to com­mu­ni­cate with the River­bank Dis­trict Of­fice and River­bank School Board to let them know that the teach­ers are a val­ued and nec­es­sary part of the River­bank School Sys­tem,” notes the let­ter. “We can’t keep los­ing good teach­ers. Our stu­dents de­serve the best ed­u­ca­tion we can of­fer. Qual­ity teach- ers are the only way to make sure that hap­pens.”

Bol­ing said it is dis­heart­en­ing to see that com­ments from teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents at board meet­ings haven’t seemed to have any ef­fect and some teach­ers have also had to ap­ply for wel­fare med­i­cal cov­er­age for their chil­dren.

“A group of par­ents have al­ready col­lected more than 200 sig­na­tures pe­ti­tion­ing the school board to set­tle the con­tract with the teach­ers, but it was ig­nored by the school board,” states the let­ter, fur­ther ask­ing re­cip­i­ents to get in­volved on be­half of the teach­ers. “We are urg­ing you to con­tact the Su­per­in­ten­dent and school board mem­ber in your area and let them know that you value the teach­ers that pro­vide the qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion in River­bank and to set­tle the con­tract with the teach­ers now. Any fur­ther de­lay will only do more dam­age than what is al­ready oc­cur­ring.”

PHOTO CON­TRIB­UTED

Lin­ing Claus Road out­side River­bank High School and close to the Claus and Pat­ter­son roads in­ter­sec­tion, teach­ers dis­play signs show­ing their dis­plea­sure with the sta­tus of con­tract talks with the River­bank Uni­fied School Dis­trict.

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