Madera Teachers say they feel shortchanged because the district has received millions in new state funds and refuse to put it where it was intended: the classroom. Some 500 hundred Madera Unified Teachers Association (MUTA) members attended the last school board meeting to demonstrate their support for their bargaining team and their frustration with Madera Unified School District’s (MUSD) responses.
The show of support was the largest in recent memory, and the crowd applauded and gave spontaneous shouts of encouragement as MUTA President David Holder and MUTA Chief Negotiator Amanda Wade told school board members that “we have done our homework and this district can afford our proposal. This district is flush with money,” Wade said, and “we do not want to break the bank. We do not want to picket and strike either, but we will for our students.”
The two sides are at impasse and in the mediation process. If an agreement cannot be reached, they will go through a factfinding hearing and if that process fails, teachers can legally call a strike. MUTA members say they are “seeing red” over MUSD’s refusal to put increased funding into the resources and opportunities students and teachers need to succeed.
Holder reminded school board members there was turmoil in the district seven years ago, but relations have been good since 2012. “We made good progress and great strides,” he said. “Then in the blink of an eye, it was all washed away” in the district’s first two offers, which were shocking in the disrespect showed to Madera teachers and all they do for students. “MUSD is not valuing its educators by demanding a take-back on educators’ health benefits, and proposing to increase the teachers’ work-year by five days.”
Six years ago, MUSD and MUTA avoided a strike by coming to an agreement on health benefits where the district could better project its potential costs. Now, the MUSD is seeking to upend that agreement to the frustration and disappointment of MUTA members.
With $48 million dollars in reserves, an incoming $17 million in new dollars for the 2018-19 school year alone, the passage of the bond measure, Measure M, set to bring in an additional $120 million dollars, “there is absolutely no reason for this district to propose a take-back on benefits and demand 5 extra working days for educators,” Wade said.
She noted MUSD also transferred out $16 million from the General Fund in the 17-18 school year, and plans to transfer out another $13 million this year. This means MUSD ‘s excellent financial position is even better than reported because the transfers out artificially lower their reserves.
In addition to very healthy reserves, MUTA claims MUSD has consistently over-projected losses to its reserves for the past six years to “manufacture a crisis.”
“Our students deserve better,” Holder said. “Madera teachers deserve better.”