Hundreds attend Alpine School Board meeting to support teachers
Except for the part when the school board unanimously approved the imposition that, if stands, could cut almost half of Alpine teachers’ compensation by more than 30 percent, last night’s board meeting, with almost 300 people in attendance, was a raucous, one-sided diatribe in support of Alpine Teachers Association members.
Members, parents and community supporters verbally eviscerated Superintendent Tom Pellegrino and the school board, at times tearfully poignant, at other times stridently caustic. Teachers cited the inevitability of losing their homes, being unable to continue support for children in college and keeping insurance for critically ill and handicapped children. One part-time, job-share teacher with considerable experience and an advanced degree said she would be making only minimum wage should the imposition stand. Parents, who significantly recognized that what hurts teachers ultimately hurts their children, promised to honor a strike, with one even saying that they would permanently transfer their children to other surrounding districts should a job action occur.
Even though it called for significant cuts – on top of concessions Alpine members have volunteered for many years to try to help the district deal with declining enrollment – teachers overwhelmingly approved the fact finder’s recommended settlement. The board could have reciprocated by accepting the one year deal, and prudently waiting to see how incoming funds from the new Local Control Funding Formula and other sources might help to ameliorate the situation before negotiating for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. Instead they slammed the teachers with a permanent 7.58 percent salary cut and an $8,000 health benefits cap. Throughout the meeting, teachers held signs aloft indicating how much they would lose from each month’s check, all in the neighborhood of $1,400 to $1,600. Previous statements by Alpine Superintendent Tom Pellegrino, indicating that the “district and board have won” and that “a strike would be a badge of honor for the Republican school board” validate a strong suspicion that the imposition may be as ideologically influenced as by their definition of fiscal prudence.
Last night’s callous “holiday season” imposition will no doubt dampen the seasonal spirit of Alpine TA members and their families, but it also strengthens their resolve to hold out for the equity and respect they and their students deserve. Plans are already underway for an escalation of organizing activities as soon as school resumes in the new year.
San Diego Channel 10 news covered the event, and this clip that aired gives a snapshot of the almost three-hour board meeting.