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Coverage of Saugus Teacher Dispute

We can no longer be silent regarding factual errors and slanted coverage of the Saugus teachers’ salary and insurance disputes with the Saugus district!

We have noted in all media coverage that Supt. Chris Wilson is given credibility as having accurate facts and interpretations. Teachers’ comments are given little credence and few of the facts we present ever make it to print.

A Los Angeles Times article (Sept. 23) reported: “Supt. Chris Wilson said the two sides agreed on an improved fringe benefits package.”

We have indeed agreed to a fringe benefits package--finally. However, the district initially proposed cutting benefits and adding out-of-pocket expenses for status quo coverage. In the final package, coverage was reinstated at a status quo level in most areas. The one exception was that many of our teachers were forced to change medical insurance carriers, with some adverse changes of coverage. Who would justly call this an improved benefit package?

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Teachers are asking for a salary increase of 12% this year, based on contractual language that allows negotiations to reopen with the advent of new legislation. Although our initial proposal included a 12% increase for the following year, in an effort to bargain in good faith, the salary proposal for next year was dropped.

Wilson did not acknowledge this concession by the teachers. The district negotiators, conversely, have continually offered no salary increase in their counterproposals. Saugus teachers are paid in the bottom quartile when compared to teachers in the 33 elementary districts of Los Angeles County. However, Saugus administrators are paid in the top quartile compared to other administrators in the same elementary districts.

The Times did not even address the teachers’ perspective on this crisis. However, Wilson’s inaccurate comments are given credibility to the community by the omission of any facts or opinions that would contradict them.

JOANN PRYOR

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Saugus

Pryor is president of the Saugus Teachers Assn.


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