National City teachers and supporters confronted the school board Wednesday night for the first time since voting to authorize a strike.
On Monday, the majority of the National City Elementary Teachers Association (NCETA) voted in favor of walking off the job if an agreement on wages and classroom conditions couldn’t be reached, and the two sides have had nothing but disappointing days at the bargaining table since.
A non-agreement Wednesday sparked a demonstration outside Rancho de la Nacion Elementary school before the National School District's regularly scheduled meeting, and there was no misunderstanding the NCETA’s message:
"We reach into our pockets, we spend our money, we buy the snacks for our kids when their bellies are hungry we, buy the pencils when there are none,” teacher Christina Benson said. The teachers association says it's fighting for a significant raise and reasonable workload.
Parents and community leaders joined Wednesday's demonstration.
"I would like them to settle and give the teachers what they deserve,” said Angelina Reyes, a mother to two children in the district. “Give them the materials they need to teach our children."
National School District board members emerged from the executive session with only a decision to schedule more negotiations with a state mediator.
The district told NBC 7 it won't comment while in negotiations
A former student had plenty of comments for the board, though.
"I ask you board members, how can you teach the students of tomorrow when their teachers are using the tools of yesterday?” he pondered.
Community leaders, including firefighter union representatives and local political leaders, urged the district to settle before a strike.
"If you value educators and the tremendous work that our teachers of National City do, you would do the right thing," another speaker said.
Don't expect teachers on the picket line anytime soon.
There is a no-strike clause in their current contract which doesn't expire until June 30, and they have plenty of steps to take in negotiations before it comes to that point.
The Teachers Union President said that if there is no agreement and the district imposes its last best offer, the teachers will strike at the start of next school year.