On Thursday, teachers in Alpine went on strike over recent salary cuts and changes to their health care coverage. It's the first teachers strike in San Diego County since 1996. NBC 7’s Lauren Lee has the latest.
Teachers in Alpine walked off the job Thursday to protest pay and benefit cuts.
The Alpine Unified School District Board recently approved a 7.85 percent salary cut and an $8,000 cap on health benefit contributions.
The district has said that the increase in costs concerning health care coverage along with declining state funding has left them no choice but to approve the cuts.
"We have a proposal on the table that we really believe is good for all employees and helps restore. If we could give them their proposal and fund their proposal we would love to do that. It's just financially that would bankrupt us," said Superintendent Tom Pellegrino.
Teachers held signs as they stood outside schools and the district office before 7 a.m.
Jeanne Prins, a psychologist with the district, said she will see an $1100 net loss in salary this month.
Prins said the teachers are aware of declining enrollment and had been working to negotiate salary cuts with the district.
She has been with the district for 25 years and said she and her husband can financially survive the cuts. However, she’s concerned about some of the teachers who are looking for second jobs.
"After 32 years this is the respect I'm getting, people making decisions on how to spend money because they feel technology, they feel all these other things are more important than the teacher," said third grade teacher Vicki Pool.
The teachers want people to know they're not striking for a raise but rather less of a cut.
"It's unbelievable and it's so disrespectful and it's devastating for everyone involved and when people say we are being selfish, we are trying to hold our families together, we're trying to pay our bills we're trying to have medical care for our kids. This is not what we want to do. This is what he have to do," said third grade teacher Kris Itokazu.
"There's nothing more in this world I want to do than to honor and compensate teachers at the highest levels but when the money is not there what are you supposed to do," Pellegrino said.
The Joan MacQueen Middle School principal said the district is prepared for the strike and has hired substitutes to fill-in.