Teachers’ union bargains for stimulus money

For those Castro Valley students, teachers and staff affected by the recent cuts to the district’s budget, some hope may be on the horizon in the form of stimulus dollars.

The Castro Valley Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association are currently discussing with the school district how to use the money received from the government this year. CVTA and CSEA filed a Demand to Bargain with the district.

CVUSD has received 90 percent of the $1,666,367 allotted to it by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The money is apportioned based on the average daily attendance statistic within the district’s schools.

A primary purpose of the stimulus is to preserve jobs. The money cannot be used to fund anything in the district office itself, but can be spent on any employee who works at a school site, teachers and custodians alike.

The stimulus is “one time only” since it won’t be available every year and cannot be relied upon to make any permanent changes in the district, such as reverting the student-teacher ratio to 20:1.

“Would you consider getting something back that should have never been taken away in the first place?” pleaded CVTA president Barbara Siegel in a school-wide memo that was circulated in October. Siegel stated that the union’s goal for the use of this money is primarily to prevent teachers from being laid off, along with decreasing pay cuts, and ending furlough days. According to Siegel, the union hopes that the money will go a long way toward maintaining the diversity of programs and classes at CVHS and other Castro Valley schools, both this year and the next.

Representatives from the district are in ongoing talks with both CVTA and CSEA about how the district is planning to spend the federal funding. While neither union has the power to actually dictate how the money is spent, they do have jurisdiction to negotiate how it affects their members.

“It is a fine line,” admitted Superintendent Jim Negri. “But the education jobs funding needs to be put in the context of ongoing budget cuts from the state.”

While the district hopes to use the money to prevent further layoffs this year or the following one, uncertainty with the district’s state funding in the future has compelled officials to delay a final decision about the federal money’s use until further notice.

The district’s still-uncertain position won’t deter the union from doing their best to ensure that the money benefits teachers and school employees directly.

“The teachers’ union is going to fight to get this money back to the people who have lost jobs and salaries,” said Siegel.

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