New Haven Unified teachers change demands as strike continues

UNION CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- The mood at the teacher strike in the East Bay has taken a turn. Teachers are disappointed, tired and frustrated. The teacher's union does not believe what the district is saying about its finances. And both sides are still far apart.

The teachers' union in the New Haven School District changed what it is asking for last night. The union was asking for a 10 percent raise but has now dropped that down to nearly 7 percent.

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The district is offering a 3 percent one-time bonus for the current school year, and a 2 percent salary increase for the coming school year to be implemented halfway through the year.

"That package, when we price it out, costs us about $6 million over three years. Their package costs about $17 million. So we're still $10ish million away from each other," said John Mattos, the spokesperson for the New Haven Unified School District.

Mattos says if they met the teacher's union current demand, it would mean serious cuts to schools.

"We are talking about closing schools, cutting administration at the school sites, leaving elementary schools with 800 kids with just a principal...leaving middle schools with 1,300 kids with just a principal," explained Mattos.

The union doesn't believe him.

"I don't buy it," said Union Vice President Pace Lash.

"They have $26 million dollars in reserve; $26 million, that's what they have," said Lash.

Mattos said they are required to leave $12 million in reserve. He says the district needs the rest of the reserves because they are currently deficit spending and need that savings account in order to balance the budget. He says even if they did pledge the reserves to teacher raises, the district isn't getting any new revenue. So once it is gone "we can't fund that increase to their salary."

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With the two sides still strongly at odds, teachers wonder when it will end.

"I miss my students in the classroom. We are designed to teach, not be marching. My feet hurt. It is definitely not a good situation," said teacher Sarah Du from the picket line.

Schools are still open but attendance has dropped significantly during the strike, which is now on day six.

"What we have seen since last week is a decline everyday. Monday we saw 20 percent, Friday we went down to 9 percent. So it's going down," said Mattos.

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