San Ysidro teacher in image from NBC San Diego broadcast.
San Ysidro teacher in image from NBC San Diego broadcast.

Teachers in the San Ysidro School District walked picket lines Wednesday after last-minute negotiations with the school district failed to produce a new contract.

Officials with the district and San Ysidro Education Association, the union representing the district’s more than 200 teachers, attempted to reach an agreement Tuesday. But union members ultimately rejected an offer to raise pay by 1.5 percent, while adding one day to the school year and an additional five minutes to each school day.

“It’s not really an increase. You work more, you get paid more,” union President Carol Wallace told CBS8.

Interim Superintendent George Cameron said low enrollment over the past few years has cost the district around $2.8 million in state aid.

The figure came from a fact-finding report released last month that stated district officials needed to reduce overall costs — including teacher salaries — by 8 percent “to get back to a sound financial footing.” However, the report said that a 2 percent salary reduction would suffice.

The union alleged that the district was hiding money so officials could “lowball” teachers during negotiations, according to the report.

“The key issue to this impasse is the financial ability of the district,” officials noted in the report. “Complicating communications between the association and the district is the association’s belief that the district misrepresents its financial position each year.”

Union members countered that the district was left with more money than expected following the last academic year.

“The district clearly has the ability to pay the status quo and also has the ability to increase employee compensation,” union members wrote in a dissenting opinion piece that accompanied the report. “To put it into perspective, a 1 percent increase to the salary schedule is only $181,000.”

All district schools will be open during the strike, using substitute teachers, and pre-school and after-school programs should operate as usual, as should school bus service, Cameron told NBC7.

However, the station reported that no teachers were available for some classes, a situation the district was attempting to rectify.

A special meeting of the San Ysidro School District Governing Board, scheduled for 5 p.m. at San Ysidro Middle School, was canceled. The agenda included a vote on implementing a three-year contract with a 6.5 percent pay cut — of which 4.5 percent would be offset by grant funds, according to district documents.

—City News Service