Both William S. Hart Union High School District’s classified staff and teachers complained of ongoing negotiations on employee wages during a Wednesday night board meeting, and site staff morale overall. Said it was low.
The boardroom on Wednesday night was a mixture of district employees wearing T-shirts from the Hart District Teachers Association or the California School Employees Association, but according to HDTA President John Minx, the two unions were called “unfortunate campers.” It was unified.
“Our staff are exhausted and depressed due to constant change, increasing requirements and lack of support,” Minks said. “Beyond the educational part of our work, there is constant concern about monitoring safety protocols in this illness era.”
According to both HDTA and CSEA speakers, the frustration expressed on Wednesday stems from ongoing labor negotiations with the district. According to Minks, the elephants in the room are raising staff salaries and they haven’t received them for years.
Kathy Hefferon, president of CSEA Chapter 349, refused to use the time reserved at the start of the meeting on Wednesday and said he would like to hear from a group of classified staff.
During their speech, some classified staff said they demanded a 5% salary increase from the district, and the manager opposed it with a 2% offer.
“Tonight I say I’ve been handed more work without additional help, especially if you can make more money elsewhere, no one’s of us I ended up not having enough classified staff because I don’t want to work in the district, “said Debbie Gibson, a 30-year classified employee of the district. “Currently, there are over 100 classified ads. Do you know who is picking up the slack?”
According to Gibson, this week he saw new hires promised more money per hour than the average classified employee.
“You know my work ethic, you know me, the managers of this district how I go up for my work, my school, and my students I know, “Gibson said. “As I said before, I’m done … (Mike) Coolman, I’m resigning on your desk next week with the intention of retiring in December.”
On Thursday, Cherise Moore, Chairman of the Board, said he understood the frustration expressed by the staff and invited him to attend a special meeting / budget study session of the Board.
“I don’t know everyone, but I know a lot (staff members),” Moore said. “So when you hear a story like last night, it’s personal because of those relationships, and it’s difficult.”
Moore said staff need to attend meetings so that managers, categorized staff, and teachers can work with the same number and brainstorm possible solutions within budget.
“COVID is difficult enough that we want to get to where we need it without staff … but we have to spend a lot of time worrying about money,” Moore said. “And I know it’s a reality for many people.”
A special board meeting to discuss the budget is scheduled for September 22nd at 7:00 pm.
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