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Teachers planning protest to raises

Teachers' union not happy about pay raises for administrators, saying money could have been spent in other places.

March 28, 2007|By Michael Alexander

Huntington Beach City School District teachers say they will pack the next school board meeting April 17 to protest pay raises for administrators after they felt pressured to settle for less.

The teachers' union is scheduled to meet with the board April 10, union lead negotiator Norma Janssen said. But teachers are also meeting in small groups to plan their next move, she said.

When they signed their contract with the district a few weeks ago, union leaders settled because they were told it was the best they could get. But teachers cried foul after a March 12 board meeting gave raises to principals and Supt. Roberta DeLuca.

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Teachers were frustrated to find principals getting extra money, but they called DeLuca's raise shocking. They were also angered that school board members found more money to promote an administrator to a new assistant superintendent position.

The money didn't necessarily have to go straight to teacher salaries, said Tony Zini, a third-grade teacher at Hawes Elementary. But it should have at least funded supplies or library hours, he said.

"When you have money, the first place it should go should be a classroom," Zini said. "A lot of things have been cut [over the last five years]. Things were tight."

Brian Rechsteiner, president of the district's school board, said the board tried to make salaries competitive for all district jobs.

"We're trying to get all our employee groups at least to about the average of all the comparable school districts," he said.

"The superintendent was basically at the bottom of those comparable schools. It took her a little more to get up to the average."

Even the amounts of the raises are disputed. Teachers got a 6.5% cost-of-living adjustment this year, as did principals. But the board voted principals an additional 2% in their pay schedule from January on. Janssen said that according to her calculations, DeLuca's pay increased 20% or 30%, though she said it was difficult to be sure because many benefits were folded into the salary this year. DeLuca and Rechsteiner say it was 10.9%.According to district Human Resources Asst. Supt. Kathy Kessler, DeLuca's old salary plus allowances, expenses and a doctoral stipend was $159,150. The new salary, plus the one remaining stipend, is $187,500, making for an 18.3% difference over the old salary, 11.8% more than the cost-of-living adjustment all employees got.

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