Teacher’s association at odds with district leadership

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Standing for their cause to receive fair compensation, Winters Area Education Association teachers stated intentions to work for a better wage to the board and superintendent at the Thursday, April 19, school board meeting.

Chief negotiator Sue Bridge, president JoAnn May and negotiators Connie Balasek, Robin Rotenkolber, Andrea Hurst, Raena Lavelle and Mari Chavez presented a unified front in WAEA t-shirts promoting their organization.

“There is a huge divide between the WAEA and the school board. We are not a priority and our compensation is an afterthought,” said Bridge.

The current contract between the district and teachers bargaining unit resulted in a decrease of professional development days. This is an effort to increase salary per day by decreasing the days of work rather than increasing money spent.

The board was vocal in their disappointment of the decision, viewing the move as a lack of commitment to professional development.

WAEA teachers felt that not making that adjustment would have compromised their worth to the district.

“Over 20 percent of our teachers have 20 or more years of experience,” said Bridge.

She felt that the failure to increase pay will make it hard in the future to attract qualified new teachers if they are not able to look forward to good compensation. Bridge felt that Superintendent Todd Cutler’s 3 percent salary increase was disjointed.

“Cutler’s three percent salary increase was akin to salt in the wound, but I realize it was a necessary task to keep a qualified superintendent,” she said.

Bridge was not against Cutler’s raise, but simply felt the same confidence should be represented in teacher compensation, to show the district felt they were similarly qualified.

“Morale is at an all-time low, but we look forward to working with the district to tackle this tough issue,” said Bridge.

The board unanimously approved Cutler’s salary increase as well as an extension to his contract, which now ends June 2021.


Other items

  • Director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations Roy Owens reported that the conversion at John Clayton to house multiple preschool programs in the main building and the Career Readiness Academy (formerly Wolfskill Continuation High School) in the portable structure will be completed in time for the 2018-19 school year.
  • The board unanimously approved an agreement with Migrant Education to receive funding for K-7 summer school and a speech and debate program in the regular school year. Summer school for higher grades will continue without funding from Migrant Education.
  • The district may save up to $32,000 per year by restructuring the technology department to replace the open network administrator position with a senior technology support specialist that would have a lower classification of duties.
  • Director of education and informational technology Micah Studer reported that the intern summer program is set to continue, where high school and potentially middle school students will have the opportunity to work on Chromebook issues to prepare the technology for the upcoming school year.

 “We are absolutely open to including other areas of technology, we are finding out that the students are far more capable than just serving Chromebooks,” said Studer.

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