Fresno Unified's Teachers Union criticizes district's contract proposal

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno Teachers Association said the district is offering an all-or-nothing deal that gives teachers a 2.5 percent raise this year, and a 2 percent raise in each of the following two years, among several other measures. It's questioning why the superintendent is turning to the media to discuss the details when talks are still on-going.

"Why the district is now going to the media to shed light on our contract negotiations, Fresno Teachers Association has no idea," said FTA President Eva Ruiz.

Ruiz is frustrated with Fresno Unified after it called a news conference Friday, to discuss ongoing contract negotiations with the district just one day after presenting it with the details of its latest proposal.

"We still have dates, contract negotiations have not shut down so I guess this comes as a surprise to us," Ruiz said.

She calls it an "all-or-nothing deal" and has concerns the plan would give the district more discretion to discipline teachers, could reduce flexibility for how they use their prep time and says the slated rate increases don't reflect years of salary freezes.

"We know the district has an enormous amount of money sitting in the bank and what they've proposed across the table, it came across yesterday and what we've been hearing from teachers is that it's quite insulting," she added.

The district officials paint an entirely different picture.

"I'm incredibly optimistic at this point that FTA will reach an agreement because with each negotiation we enter we keep students at the top of our list," said Superintendent Michael Hanson.

Hanson said the district's proposal would increase instructional time for students by 30 additional minutes in 20 new schools next year and another 20 campuses the following year, teachers would be given 10 additional days to collaborate with their peers and career earnings at 10, 20 and 25 years of service would be the fourth highest in the state.

"Yesterday we shared all the information we can with the FTA," said Hanson. "We shared it completely with them and that's why we're here today. We want to communicate it as far and wide as we can, knowing that they will come back with a counter at some point in the future."

Both sides agreed the biggest sticking point is teacher evaluations. The district wants to make 20 to 30 percent based on student growth within a year, but the union is concerned attaching a certain percentage will take away from the holistic process. Both sides will return to the bargaining table on October 22.

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