Salary negotiations continue at SSUSD

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

The main point of disagreement in ongoing negotiations between Sierra Sands Unified School Dis-trict and the Desert Area Teachers Association is salary.

During the April 17 SSUSD Board of Education meeting, several teachers spoke out during the public comment period. Two terms were used that are confusing for the casual observer: off-schedule payment and on-schedule increase.

According to Barb Walls, DATA president, off-schedule means a one-time-only payment, such as a bonus. On-schedule means the payment is put on the salary schedule and it’s permanent. This is a raise. “Salary is the only sticking point,” said Walls.

In the district’s last counterproposal to DATA, dated April 8, the district offered a 1.5-percent off-schedule payment for the 2013-14 school year and a 3-percent on-schedule increase for the 2014-15 school year. DATA’s proposal of April 1 requests a 3.5-percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2013, plus full funding of all health and welfare benefits.

The district’s previous proposal specified a salary increase of 0.6 percent retroactive to July 1, 2013, plus full coverage of the increased cost of benefits, for a total of approximately 2.82-percent total compensation increase. According to DATA, but not on the update on www.ssusdschools.org, was the offer of a 1.5- percent off-schedule payment.

During the April 17 board meeting, the numbers being thrown around were the 1.5 and 0.6 percents, which belong to the earlier proposals and not the April 8 one.

The latest updates on negotiations posted the website under “Negotiations,” are dated April 4, 2014, and April 8, 2014. DATA turned in a new proposal during the April 17 meeting.

DATA members have been outspoken about their feelings that the district can afford to pay more than has been offered. Ernie Bell, as SSUSD head of Human Resources, is saying very little about the negotiations, to avoid potential legal ramifications.

“We’re always looking forward to working with DATA. Negoti-ations are ongoing, as we always try to work with the best interests of everyone in this process, and maintain confidentiality so we can reach an agreement with all parties involved,” said Bell.

Union negotiations will be conducted behind closed doors, and details will not be made public until an agreement is reached, which is why confidentiality is an issue.

In other SSUSD news, three new principals have been selected. The new principal at Inyokern Elementary will be Bev Eubank, the new principal at Las Flores will be Sue Marvin and Bryan Auld will be the new principal at Burroughs High School.

Story First Published: 2014-05-07