Fresno Unified is preparing for a possible teacher's strike

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the classrooms of McLane High School, a different kind of lesson with potential teachers in the students' seats.

Fresno Unified filled these classrooms with a one-stop shopping orientation for emergency substitute teachers.

A couple hundred of them filled out paperwork, got ID cards, and even submitted to fingerprinting while also learning how to handle a job they may be thrust into soon.

FUSD Teacher Development Administrator Teresa Morales-Young said, "We're making sure they have classroom strategies for classroom management, building relationships with students, and also a knowledge of how the curriculum works."

The school district and its 3,800 teachers have reached an impasse in negotiations as teachers push for better salaries and benefits, smaller class sizes, and improvements in special education.

Both sides say they would rather avoid it, but the first strike in 40 years could come this month.

Fresno Unified is offering $500 a day to potential subs about four times the usual amount.

Administrators say they have added 1300 new subs to the pipeline and a lot of them are highly qualified.

"We're finding out we have many credentialed teachers as well as experienced substitutes, so we're really excited because we feel like our students are going to have the best experience in their classrooms," said Morales-Young.

Union leaders say they are not surprised by the district going to great lengths to find subs to break a possible strike.

Member of Fresno's Teacher Association, Jon Bath said, "Fresno Unified has been willing to do basically everything and anything besides work with its educators."

But even with the newly recruited subs, there are only 1,700 people to fill 3,800 teacher jobs, and union leaders say it will be a bad situation for the kids.

Fact-finding is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. If there is no agreement after that, the district can impose its terms on the teachers, and the teachers can go on strike.
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