Tensions between Sweetwater Union High School trustees and the district’s teachers are just one reason the board has postponed a scheduled meeting, the district confirmed Monday.
A statement issued by the district listed the health of Board President Jim Cartmill as the second factor forcing the meeting’s delay. The district said Cartmill is scheduled for surgery on Wednesday.
District spokesperson Manuel Rubio told NBC 7 the regularly scheduled board meeting has been postponed so that negotiations with the Sweetwater Education Association can be the main focus.
On Monday morning, about nine teachers picketed with signs before going to class at Castle Park High School.
The union approved a strike vote Friday, authorizing a strike if necessary. Its members want the district to honor their current contract.
The main bargaining sticking point is over health plan contributions. Teachers also want a raise and a reduction in class size.
It's the district's legal position that a strike during negotiations would not be lawful, Rubio said.
Before school, parents on both sides of the issue talked about a looming strike in the days before students are scheduled for spring break.
Parent Mark Keich thinks teachers should stay in the classroom while negotiations continue.
“Stick it out. Just keep trying to work something out,” Keich said. “It beats not getting a check at all actually. That's how I look at it.”
“I think that teachers work hard and they don't get enough money as they should get,” said parent Caroline Diaz. “They do have lots of kids so if that's what they’ve got to do, we have to support them.”
The district says they have a plan in place if nothing is resolved and a strike does happen.
“It could include substitutes, different staff from around the district offices who would be placed at school sites, people who are administrators, etc. There's a lot of different options we have. We're ready for that in case it does get to that,” Rubio said.
SEA was set to rally at the Sweetwater district offices at 4 p.m. before the board meeting.