COURTESY OF VAL VERDE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION
Val Verde teachers are seeking better pay and have reached an impasse in talks with school district officials.
The Val Verde Teachers Association, the union representing about 800 teachers, held a rally outside the district office in Perris last week. Members were scheduled to address the school board Tuesday evening, Sept. 1, to urge the district to offer what they consider a better deal.
“We’re hopeful the district will see the light and pay our teachers what they’re worth and end up attracting the best teachers like we used to,” association President Albert Trudel said.
The district has offered teachers a 3 percent raise, but the union is asking for a 7 percent hike, Trudel said.
The teachers’ union says that Val Verde has fallen behind neighboring school districts when it comes to teacher salaries. About eight years ago, when the district was in financial trouble, teachers agreed to a 5 percent pay cut, Trudel said. They’ve yet to catch up, he said.
Superintendent Michael McCormick said that, despite the impasse, he believes the district has an “outstanding” relationship with the teacher association and hopes to reach an agreement.
He acknowledged that Val Verde lags behind other districts in teacher pay.
“We recognize that,” he said. “We’re working very hard on the district side to ensure that we can give the teachers something that’s more competitive with surrounding districts.”
Lower pay than districts such as Moreno Valley and Riverside hurts Val Verde when it’s time to attract new teachers as employees leave or retire, Trudel said.
McCormick said that the “worst thing would be to see them leave for better pay at surrounding districts.”
Val Verde, which serves parts of Moreno Valley and the Perris area, wants to reach a fair settlement in which “we gave all we could and still maintain fiscal solvency,” he said.
Trudel said that’s where the sides differ. The union believes the district can provide more than it’s offering.
“They have the ability to make it right and make it right right now,” Trudel said.
The two sides have met with a mediator three or four times in the past couple months and are set to meet again Sept. 9, he said.
The union is not at the point yet where it’s discussing a strike, Trudel said. Members would need to vote to authorize such a step, he said. The negotiation process includes a couple of other stages before it would reach that point, he said.
“That’s not where we want to be at the moment,” Trudel said.
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