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Redondo Teachers Cut Extra Efforts in Dispute

Times Staff Writer

Until a wage dispute is resolved, teachers in the Redondo Beach City School District have vowed to stop using after-school hours for such activities as grading homework and holding parent-teacher conferences.

“There will be no more freebies,” said Susan Meyer, president of Redondo Beach City Teachers Assn.

Last month the district rejected the teachers’ request for a 5% cost-of-living increase, which would have cost the district about $300,000. The district offered 2.3%--at a cost of slightly less than $150,000--which the teachers rejected. So far no new negotiations have been scheduled, officials said.

“The ball is in their court,” Meyer said.

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Contract Expires in 1989

The district’s 150 teachers are under a 2-year contract that expires in June. Under the contract, the teachers are allowed to renegotiate certain aspects of the agreement, such as wages and benefits.

The teachers have been picketing school functions, such as open houses, and they recently demonstrated during the district’s 100-year anniversary celebration, Meyer said.

“The district has just shown what they think the teachers are worth,” Meyer said. “And this shows they are not worth a lot.”

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Supt. Nick Parras said the district is willing to negotiate but cannot afford a 5% raise without cutting programs or salaries of other employees.

“There is no way I’m going to say teachers are not important,” he said. “But I am not going to cut programs or salaries.”

Both sides agree that a strike is not likely unless an impasse in negotiations is reached.

Lauren Sanders, executive director of South Bay United Teachers, said the district can afford the 5% raise.

“The teachers are really angry,” said Sanders, who represents teachers in five South Bay school districts. He said that if the teachers continue to cut extracurricular services, such as grading homework after school, “the whole education process may come to a halt.”

He added: “Anything like this is going to hurt the kids.”

At a school board meeting last week, about 80 elementary teachers confronted the board about the raise. They told the trustees that until an agreement is reached, teachers will work “solely by the clock,” Meyer said.

This year the state gave the district a 3.7% increase in funds over last year, school officials said. Meyer said the state increase should have gone to help pay for the teachers’ raise, but Parras said the money was needed for special education.

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Stands by Budget

“I will defend the budget to anybody,” he said.

Parras said declining enrollment and lower-than-expected lottery funds are putting the district in a financial bind. The district budget has a 3% reserve, he said, but by state law that money can be used only for “unseen emergencies.”

Meyer said the district has budgeted a $200,000 increase for supplies this year. She suggested that figure could be trimmed.

Parras said the money budgeted for supplies also pays for new library aides, an expense he says he will not cut.


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