Rowland Unified teachers want a 10 percent raise

By Staff Writer Steve Scauzillo

Raises for teachers are just some of the major issues before the school board Tuesday night.

The board Tuesday will hear from Douglas Staine, assistant superintendent of human resources, on the status of ongoing labor talks with Association of Rowland Educators (ARE)  and with the California School Employees Association (CSEA).

The district and its teachers are moving closer on the issue of salary hikes.

ARE moved from 12.5 percent over two years to 10 percent over one year. The district moved its offer from 3.5 percent to a 4.5 percent salary increase over two years.

The district also proposed increasing its maximum health benefits contribution for teachers by $850 over two years.

The district is concerned about the teachers’ proposal for a one-year pay hike for this year, retroactive to July 1, 2013. “This was a significant departure from prior sessions because both teams had been exchanging two year compensation proposals for 2013-14 and 2014-15,” according to the district’s “Negotiation Update” released Feb. 25.

Petersen said the union negotiators consolidated their offer into one year because the teachers are not sure what to expect from the district next year. He was positive about the district’s funding presentation from Ron Bennett, a consultant hired by RUSD.

But the teachers said there is too much uncertainty in scheduling of teacher training days and in other aspects of work days. “We are trying to develop a system where we have a plan. In this district, in the last decade, plans change from month to month.”

Petersen added: “It is the culture of the district. It has everything to do with trust and controlling our working conditions.”

Beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience earn an annual salary of $45,180 at RUSD, which is ranked 18th out of 47 school districts, according to a salary survey from the Los Angeles County Office of Education dated June 2013. Arcadia Unified was No. 1 with starting salaries at $49,874; Bassett Unifed was near the bottom at $38,776. Charter Oak was last at $38,495.

Teachers with a master’s degree and listed as the maximum salary step for RUSD earn $69,216, for a ranking of 21 out of 34 districts for which there was comparable data, according to the LACOE report.

RUSD operates 19 schools in Rowland Heights, Walnut, La Puente, Industry and West Covina — with 15,000 students. Board meetings are held at district headquarters, 1830 S. Nogales St., at 5:30 p.m. for the closed session and 7 p.m. for the regular session.