Over 100 teachers from Castro Valley schools gathered at a school board meeting on Feb. 8 to ask for a better benefit package and express their opposition to the district’s plan to move the school year’s beginning to Aug. 13 and its end to May 29 for the 2019-2020 school year.
Teachers marched from CVHS down Redwood Road and up Alma Avenue to the district office, wearing blue shirts and toting signs with slogans of support for their cause.
“The district does not pay for benefits for one teacher in full, and so if a teacher has to worry about paying for their medical care, then how can they do the best for their students?” said Roger Kim, president of the Castro Valley Teachers Association (CVTA).
CVTA began discussion on the topic of benefits with the district in a bargaining meeting in January, and many members went to the public board meeting to reinforce the resolve held by the teachers in this matter.
Union members believe that the compensation package currently offered by the school district is driving talented teachers to other districts that offer more coverage.
“Our students are suffering as a result [of the situation] because we’re losing a lot of good teachers. We can’t keep them here,” said Kim.
Currently the district offers $6,000 per year per teacher in health and dental benefits. They offer seven different medical plans for teachers to choose from, with varying premiums and deductibles.
The district has offered an increase of $300 per year in the amount of health coverage it pays. The teachers have requested a further increase so that every teacher would at least be able to take the lowest cost plan without paying out of their own pocket.
While some other school districts offer more in health benefits to their teachers and some offer less, Castro Valley Unified School District receives less funding than many other districts. As a result, the district tries to consider all its programs when making financial decisions.
“As a district, we have to look at everything. We try to balance it out and make the best decision for everybody,” said Sherri Beetz, assistant superintendent for human resources.
President of the School Board Jo Loss stated that the district wishes to balance its budget while also retaining skilled teachers.
“The Board of Education recognizes that a highly qualified teacher is the most important factor in the classroom,” she said.
All parties involved declare that their goals are the health and happiness of the students and teachers in Castro Valley, but their views on how that is achieved differ.
Bargaining between the district and union will continue through the spring.