San Diego

Santee Teachers to Rally Ahead of Board Meeting, Asking for Higher Salaries, Better Benefits to Retain Teachers

 Teachers apart of the Santee Teachers Association (STA) will rally ahead of a Santee School Board meeting Tuesday, asking for higher salaries and better benefits to retain better teachers.

An hour before the 7 p.m. Board meeting Tuesday, teachers will gather to support their bargaining team’s position, saying that lower salaries and lacking benefits put the school, community and students at risk of losing highly qualified teachers.

"I think for us, when we look at costs and benefits, we need to stay competitive; $18,000 a year for myself and family, that's a lot of money coming out of my pocket when other districts are offering much better benefit packages," said teacher and union member Chris Stanley. 

Stanley and other teachers say teachers are paying between $12,000 and $15,000 a year out-of-pocket for health coverage for their families. 

According to the union's website, the district will pay an extra $600 a year into the benefit package, up about half a percent from the year before. 

Teachers say the cost of health care is just too high, especially for those new to the district. 

"It makes it impossible to stay in the district if you're five years or under," said Kathryn Ducharmes, a teacher and union member. "You're going to go to Poway and get full benefits or San Diego and get full benefits for your family." 

A school district representative said their goal is the same as the teachers. The Superintendent said they are looking at the compensation package, which includes an increase in what district pays for employee health care, up from a $7,200 cap per year to a $9,000 cap in three years . 

She says teachers can opt for a plan that is as low as $8,000 a year, and $18,000 is the highest out-of-pocket plan offered. 

Surrounding district’s increase in pay have lead some teachers to consider moving to higher-paying districts in the county, the STA claims. In turn, some of the district’s most experienced teachers are at risk of leaving.

"In the end, it's about ensuring every student receives a high quality education. We can do this by appropriately compensating our high quality teaching force," said STA President Lori Meaux in a statement.

Negotiators say that in 2015, the conditions offered by the district were “unacceptable” and did not include a future salary schedule plan to reflect gains to keep district competitive.

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