Fresno Unified preparing for potential teacher strike

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A room full of Fresno Unified teachers with a majority vote in favor of going on strike Tuesday night (KFSN)

A room full of Fresno Unified teachers with a majority vote in favor of going on strike Tuesday night.

Teachers and the district are now entering the last phase of negotiations, where a third party comes in to look at the district's finances and tries to get both sides to come to an agreement.

"It's OK if they have subs but if they're just constantly changing, if they can stick to one sub that would be ok but if it's changing I know it's going to be a problem for them," said parent Alexander Cuevas.

Fresno has not come this close to a strike in almost four decades--the last teachers strike in Fresno happened in 1978.

One of the students we spoke to in 1978 had this to say:

"They're arguing over our class size. It's everything regarding us and if we keep coming to school they'll get the money they'll need to pay the subs. If they can't pay the subs they can't run the schools," said

Superintendent Bob Nelson says he saw the effects last much longer than the strike did--he says when he came to the district in 1991, teachers were still not interacting with each other as a result of it.

Teachers hope the strike will put enough pressure on the school district to meet their needs--smaller class sizes, classroom safety and better salaries and benefits.

"There's been an explosion in budget for Fresno Unified their budget has gone from 585 million in 2013, it will be over a billion dollars next year, the money going to the classroom is shrinking and shrinking when we have all these extra things," said FTA Bargaining Chair, Jon Bath.

The district says they have made offers, like a three and a half percent salary increase, eliminating combination classes and reducing core class ratios for specific grades but it has not been enough. So parents and students may see substitute teachers and a halt on before and after-school activities.

The superintendent says they are counting on fact finding to reach a deal, but if they do not, they are preparing to keep a steady atmosphere for their students.

"It's not the same as having your regular teacher in class I wouldn't try to pretend that it is, but we will absolutely make sure our schools stay open and functional and have loving cleared professionals that are there," said Nelson.

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