An agreeable increase in both pay and contributions to health benefits is keeping teachers and the San Mateo County Office of Education from reaching an agreement on a contract for the current school year.
Negotiations with a mediator are scheduled to start next week for the two sides. Teachers, who work in the county's community schools and with special needs students, say they have not gotten a raise in more than five years while costs of health benefits have encroached on their pay. Teachers are currently working without a contract, which expired June 30.
"We are feeling overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, mistrusted and just plain disgruntled. There is a blanket of non-support emanating from many of the managers to whom we report,” said Shelley Viviani, lead negotiator for the teachers, who added that the employees work with children who can be particularly challenging.
The San Mateo County Office of Education oversees court and community schools while also serving many students with special needs.
The Office of Education is working in good faith with the teachers' association to conclude current contract negotiations, according to a statement from spokeswoman Nancy Magee.
"Although the parties are at an impasse, the county office remains committed to bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion by producing a contract that is fair, reasonable and fiscally responsible. From the beginning, it has been our goal to achieve a contract that both protects the interests of our employees and the financial health and the safe and efficient operation of the county office.”
The district is offering a 1 percent, non retroactive raise while the employees are asking for a 9 percent salary boost and full family health coverage, according to teachers. In addition to the 1 percent proposal, teachers claim the district is seeking to decrease pay for work during an extended school year.
While there hasn't been an increase since the 2007-08 school year, Viviani said health costs have risen in that period resulting in a reduction in salary ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent depending on an employee's benefits.
Teachers point to the district's $56 million reserve, which they claim is too large to not offer a better deal.
The average annual salary for teachers within the district during the 2011-12 school year was $79,961, according to the California Department of Education. The lowest salary offered is $37,304 and the highest is $89,124.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: email@example.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.