April 2013 - “Our students are tired of trying to learn in overcrowded classrooms, and teachers are fed up with making financial sacrifices for a district that does not respect our dedication,” says Brannin Dorsey, president of the 1,600-member Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA). “Enough is enough. Students and educators deserve better treatment than this — especially from a district with reserves like they have.”
With that statement, the teachers union declared a bargaining impasse and mobilized for a lively March 13 protest at the school board meeting.
One year of negotiations has gone nowhere in this financially sound district, which is hoarding money at a level about five times the reserves required by the state.
FUDTA members are seeking a class size maximum of 24 students for grades K-3 and a staffing ratio of 27:1 for grades 7-12. The district is offering maximums of 29 in kindergarten classes and 30 for grades 1-3, and no relief for all other grades. In Fremont, class sizes are now capped at 30 for K-6 classrooms, but for middle and high schools the cap is actually only a “goal” of 30, on average. The goal is 12 for special education students, but the district wants to raise that. High school classes routinely reach 35 students or more. Teachers have filed scores of grievances to lower class sizes.
The 32,000-student Fremont Unified has about $30 million in reserves. Educators have taken 12 unpaid furlough days since 2009 — a pay cut of about $7.2 million. In contract talks, FUDTA is seeking a 2 percent raise on the salary schedule and a one-time 1 percent payment, and some relief for the cost of dental benefits. The district is offering a 1 percent salary increase and a one-time bonus payment of 1.75 percent, and no relief for the escalating cost of health care.
Read news coverage of the March 13 Fremont protest here.