Huntington Beach teachers rally for a raise, after a school year with no new contract
HUNTINGTON BEACH — Their red T-shirts proclaimed, “HB teachers would rather be teaching.” Actually, however, the rally Tuesday, May 14, took place a couple of hours after they had completed a full day of schooling.
Some 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Huntington Beach Union High School District office along Bolsa Avenue waving signs with such slogans as, “We value students. Please value us.”
Some posters featured a blown-up photo of their superintendent, Clint Harwick, surrounded by Saddleback Valley Unified School District protesters several years ago when he held the same position there.
“Deja vu,” the signs read.
“For over a year, the district has postponed, arrived unprepared and shown a genuine disrespect for the negotiations process,” said District Educators Association president Shawn Werner, an English teacher at Marina High. “We hope the board will get the message that we are unified.”
Afterward, the teachers flooded the monthly 6 p.m. board meeting to make their presence known.
Harwick declined to comment for this article.
HBUHSD, which includes schools in Fountain Valley and Westminster, has about 700 teachers on nine campuses. They have worked this school year without a new contract or a raise, after their previous three-year contract expired last summer.
“In the corporate world, employees get bonuses and promotions,” said Marina High English teacher Shawne Hume. “This is the only way teachers get raises – by negotiating fair contracts.”
The union has asked the district for a two-year retroactive contract with a pay increase of 4.65% for 2018-2019 and 3.5% for 2019-2020. The district responded with an offer of a three-year retroactive contract with a 1% raise the first two years and 0.5% for 2020-2021.
Teacher salaries in the district start at about $55,000 with a maximum of $118,000.
Werner said he does not anticipate that the differences between the union and district will result in a strike. Regardless, a strike would not happen this school year, which ends June 13, he added: “Negotiating is a long, involved process.”
Union representatives point out that the percentage of the district’s budget that goes to teacher salaries has slid from 40% to 35% since Harwick was hired in late 2016.
As the English Language Arts coordinator for the district, Ocean View High teacher Jennifer Lamperts interacts regularly with Harwick.
“I’ve seen a decrease in shared decisions since he came, not just regarding pay but also curriculum,” she said.
But Amy Hagen, a special education teacher at Huntington Beach High, expressed hope that the district is ready to listen.
“That’s why we are here,” she said. “We just want to be heard.”