Modesto City Schools says talks with support staff are stuck

naustin@modbee.comApril 26, 2013 

    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin

Modesto City Schools has declared an impasse in negotiations with its support staff.

The formal declaration Friday followed eight meetings between district staff and the California School Employees Association's Modesto chapter negotiators.

Continued salary cuts and medical benefits are the sticking points, both sides agree.

The 2.2 percent salary cuts taken by bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries and other school employees expire this year. The district is asking that they continue. Teacher temporary salary concessions expire next year.

The district said its offer includes rescinding eight furlough days — five school days and three training or preparation days — that had been ordered for teachers and managers. Two furlough days are worth roughly 1 percent of salary.

The CSEA, however, said furlough and salary cuts would add up to 3 percent to 4 percent for the groups, and that the district also wants to end the "me, too" clause that ties each union's raises to what the other gets.

The workers want the district to contribute more to health benefits. CSEA full-time workers get $450 per month toward health care; they are asking $150 more.

The district proposes holding off on health benefit discussions until details of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are clear. It plans to reopen that portion of the contract with its teachers later this year.

CSEA President Aaron Castro said his members will be at Monday's board meeting in force.

"The bottom line is our members want no cuts. The district has way too much money in reserves," Castro said.

Reserves will be discussed by the board Monday. In expectation of better funding and greater local control, the district will propose setting aside millions for a maintenance wish list, new technology and higher health costs.

The list includes $1.8 million over three years to replace the artificial turf at the Downey High School stadium.

Superintendent Pam Able said the next step in negotiations will be to file a notice with the Public Employment Relations Board in Sacramento.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin,

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