SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It is looking more likely that 43,000 Sacramento City Unified School District students will spend a sixth day out of the classroom. Negotiations are ongoing as teachers and staff continue on the picket lines in a battle over better pay, benefits and hiring.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, which represents classified workers, said their negotiations fell through on Monday with the school district. They and the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) held a rally at Hiram Johnson High School Tuesday when an agreement didn't come through.
The SEIU said they returned to the bargaining table Tuesday morning, but said the District management didn't have new counterproposals.
“We want to get this done,” said SEIU 1021 Chapter President Karla Faucett. “Our members can’t afford to strike, but we also can’t afford not to. This may be a game to the District, but it’s not to us. We are ready to get our schools back up and running as soon as they show us it’s really what they want as well.”
Yesterday, officials with the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) said they sent counterproposals to the SCTA on Monday that increase one-time stipends for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. More information on the proposal can be found here.
"The kids are the ones who suffer the most"
With many parents already concerned about a loss in learning, some have concerns about how a continued strike will impact kids.
Anna Figueroa, a mother of two students, said her 7th grader is falling behind because of a lack of resources, and she is demanding action. She said many of the students who need help, just like hers, are learning English as a second language.
“He’s doing ok but I have another daughter in 7th grade and she needs help,” she said.
While many can understand the core asks that are central to this battle, like proper staffing, higher pay and benefits, not all parents are joining the picket lines.
"Again and again we see that the kids are the ones who suffer the most,” said John Meyers.
Worried his kids were falling behind, Meyers led the parent coalition "Open Sac City Schools" during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s become, you know, an annual occurrence where families don’t know if the union is going to go on strike,” Meyers said.
Meanwhile, many parents are wondering how a prolonged strike will impact their upcoming plans.
District officials are looking into it, but said they don’t yet have an answer just yet.
According to California law, a minimum of 180 days are required for school districts. According to district officials, make-up days for missed school could be hard for the district schedule.
"SCUSD has the shortest work year at 180 days, the bare minimum, so the district does not have a cushion to fall back on," district officials said. "The district is analyzing the fiscal penalties it might face for not meeting this requirement, and will explore options available to address the reduced hours and days of instruction SCUSD students are owed."
An education policy expert with the University of Southern California said they’ll likely need to make up the days.
“Definitely, that is a concern. My boys are busy. They’re in sports, (and) they’re in boy scouts,” said Angela Anderson, a mother to students in the district.
The strike, which started on Wednesday, March 23, has included nearly 4,600 staff members and teachers, canceling classes at 76 schools impacting 43,000 students. Both unions and the school district are at odds over issues such as staffing, better pay, training, and health benefits.
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