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photo credit: Courtesy of Oak Grove Union School District
Negotiations between teachers and Oak Grove Union School District have reached an impasse. Following up on yesterday’s report featuring union members, Superintendent Amber Stringfellow laid out the opinions of the small district outside of Sebastopol.
Stringfellow has led the little two-school Oak Grove Union district since 2019. A former teacher, district trustee, and 20 year district resident, she's faced wildfires and COVID during her tenure. Most pressing at the moment: a labor dispute with the district’s teachers.
"We are currently at impasse, so we've worked through negotiations, we went to mediation, and right now we're moving forward into what is called fact finding," Stringfellow said. "We're in the process of appointing panel members. The union has appointed their member, the district has appointed a member, and now we are waiting for the neutral member."
Stringfellow said the two sides are deadlocked on a wage increase.
"Currently, we are offering 11% over this year and next school year," Stringfellow said. "The teacher's union has had their demand for 19% increase from the beginning of negotiations back in November."
She admitted the district has seen a recent influx of cash.
"Just as other districts, we have received quite a bit of one time funds," Stringfellow said. "And again, one time funds are like bonus money. We are able to operate programming and after school interventions and enrichments for students, and so that's been very helpful."
Stringfellow noted though, as many other districts have, that one time funding isn't a viable source for salaries--an ongoing expense. She said even without the one time cash, the district still has a positive projected three year budget.
Besides salary, one of the union's chief concerns is over teacher input on curriculum. Stringfellow said the law is clear.
"By law, that authority and decision making and guidance and goal setting, rests in the elected trustees that we have on the board," Stringfellow said. "There's always a process and we've followed the process for getting teacher input, their professional opinion, and it's called a pilot process."
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