Message from Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education
Sacramento, CA – We care deeply about all of our district’s students and staff. We appreciate the hard work and dedication staff have demonstrated during these difficult years impacted by the pandemic, and their ongoing commitment to our students.
As your board members, we are doing our best to serve honorably and make decisions that are in the interests of all our children and families, and do right by our staff as well. For instance, we made the decision as a board to have no layoffs of teachers this year, and minimized reductions of our classified employees, even though we are projected to serve at least 3,100 fewer students. We did this because we think our kids deserve stability, and we value our staff and want to keep them serving students.
Many in our community have heard that the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021 have voted to strike. We respect the right of labor unions to strike, and believe a strike right now would be disruptive to student learning. We are committed to avoiding a strike, and will work through the following issues:
Why is the district at “impasse” with SCTA?
The district is in active negotiations with SCTA on two separate tracks.
One deals with how we are operating our schools this year during the COVID pandemic. The district made proposals to pay teachers, nurses, and substitutes extra money to help address COVID-19 challenges, including in our independent studies program, but we could not reach an agreement. The district doesn’t have the authority to pay our staff extra unless it is negotiated. You can see the proposals explained here. Because we couldn’t reach an agreement we are “at impasse” on these COVID-19 issues. This means we asked a mediator to help.
The mediator couldn’t help reach an agreement either, so they referred the district and SCTA to Fact Finding, which is the next step under California law. A report from the Fact Finding process is expected on March 17.
“Successor contract negotiations” about overall salary and benefits are NOT at impasse
As explained above, the first negotiations track about COVID-19 issues is why we filed for impasse. The second, separate track is SCUSD’s work to reach an agreement on a “successor contract” which includes salaries, benefits, and other workplace matters. The district and SCTA had met to start negotiations on this topic in March of 2020 before the pandemic disrupted life as we know it and SCUSD had to close our schools and shift to distance learning.
We are not at impasse on our negotiations over a “successor contract” related to salaries, benefits, and other matters, and SCTA acknowledged this. The district is prepared to continue to negotiate separately on these issues.
We ask SCTA to come back to the table in a good-faith collective bargaining process on a successor contract without causing disruptions to students, families, and staff.
A strike would be disruptive to our students and families who count on our schools as safe havens. SCUSD students have lost too much of their education because of interruptions in learning, and added stress and challenges of the pandemic. They shouldn’t lose even more education right when life is starting to return to normal.
Seek common ground and put students first
We do not want a strike to disrupt student learning. We remain hopeful SCTA leaders will find common ground with the district on COVID-related issues for this school year as quickly as possible. Then we can shift our focus to reaching common ground on a full successor contract agreement that is in the long-term best interest of our students, staff, and community.
Thank you for reading this letter and for your engagement. We are honored to represent you on the SCUSD Board.
Christina Pritchett, President, Board of Education, Area 3
Leticia Garcia,1st Vice President, Board of Education, Area 2
Chinua Rhodes, 2nd Vice President, Board of Education, Area 5
Lisa Murawski, Board of Education Member, Area 1
Jamee Villa, Board of Education Member, Area 4
Darrel Woo, Board of Education Member, Area 6
Lavinia Grace Phillips, Board of Education Member, Area 7