Teachers argued that the district has enough money to pay its teachers but decided to put funding in other categories. “They have a reserve of 7 percent, when the state requires 3 percent,” Cruz said. “They have the money.” Another round of negotiations with a mediator is scheduled for next week. Since the talks began in May 2006, Seymour was optimistic that a settlement could be reached. “We will get to a settlement. We always do,” he said. Many teachers said they never expected negotiations to drag on this far. Cruz, a teacher with El Monte City since 1981, said some members of the teacher union Unity Committee were victims of vandalism this year. One member’s car was stolen and another member’s gas tank was filled with water. A teacher driving home from the school board meeting realized that all but one lug nut on his tires were taken out. “It is sad … we are hoping there is no connection to the negotiations,” he said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2108160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! EL MONTE – Contract talks continue at the El Monte City School District, though the protracted negotiation has resulted in teachers forgoing after-school activities. Tutoring services, computer lab services, even annual teacher-student softball games are not currently available at many of the district’s 18 elementary schools. Roberto Cruz, a teacher at Columbia Elementary School, said teachers are doing the activities mandated by their contract. “It is against the natural feelings of a teacher,” Cruz said. “We have done what we can, and our priority is our own families.” Letters were sent to parents explaining why these services were being suspended. Many parents expressed support for their teachers at a raucous Monday evening school board meeting where teachers wore “Got Respect?” T-shirts and held up signs that said “Stop Spending our Raise.” Bill Mason, an English and Computers teacher at Columbia, said that closing the computer lab at 2:45 p.m. puts students in a bind, but “the union said to work to contract.” The divisive issue remains when the salary would kick in. The district has offered a 5 percent salary increase retroactive to March 1 to teachers and classified staff. But the latter want it to go back to July 2006, when they began preparations for the upcoming school year. Prior to this round of contract talks, the district set a 3.3 percent raise with increased health benefits. The district rewards teachers based on the number of years they are with the district. Jeff Seymour, district superintendent, said that the later date will give staff more money now and also improves their base salary when contract negotiations begin for next year.
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