About 450 Madera Unified teachers showed up to the school board meeting Tuesday night and threatened to strike. They say the school district is disrespecting them by holding back money that could be used for raises and hiring more instructors.
The turnout was so large, school board members had to move their meeting out of the district office and over to the spacious cafeteria of Madera South High where teachers’ tempers continued to flare.
“How dare you think that paying more for our benefits is equivalent to a pay raise? We have to pay more for our benefits also, so technically it’s a pay cut,” said Laura Donnelly, a teacher at Pershing Elementary.
Prior to the meeting, it was a sea of red along Howard Road as instructors marched with picket signs.
“They’re standing up for their jobs. They’re standing up for what’s right,” said Kathy Horn, President of the Madera Teachers Association.
Teachers are upset they have not had a raise in over five years and continue to face overcrowded classrooms.
Science teacher, David Holder, says they’re not asking for more money. The status quo will do just fine.
“A strike is ugly and we don’t want it, but the district has pushed us against the wall,” said David Holder, a science teacher at Madera South High.
Madera Unified has $37 million in reserve money, but refuses to spend it on existing teachers or use it to hire new instructors.
Interim Superintendent, Dr. Anthony Monreal, says today’s volatile economic climate has the district acting conservatively.
“Even though on paper it looks like we maintain a very healthy reserve, the cash flow issue is we’re like any other district able to pay bills on a monthly basis in order to maintain our fiscal status,” said Dr. Anthony Monreal, Interim Superintendent of Madera Unified.
Teachers have filed an unfair labor practice complaint in Sacramento. The hearing could wrap up by May, which paves the way for teachers to go on strike a month and a half before the school year ends.
“I would hope that’s not a reality, but the reality is we must prepare for that,” said Dr. Monreal.
Teachers plan to bring up this issue again at the meeting being held on April 23rd. They hope to have more than 800 teachers in that audience.
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