Teachers and District Narrowly Avoid Strike!

Megan Rupe

Megan Rupe

Leoni Gavrielides and Alexis Virgen

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It looks like Fresno Unified teachers will not be walking out of the classrooms, pending ratification of a tentative agreement announced by the district and union leadership.

During the past few weeks, tension escalated between the two sides, threatening the first real strike of teachers in the district in 40 years. The battering of both sides over contentious issues spilled into the community and even forced division between some teachers. However, the long awaited confidential fact finding report apparently yield positive results for both sides.

Fresno Teachers’ Association President, Tisha Rice, said the process was “exhausting.” However, in an interview with the Charger, she said it was well worth it. “It is a fair agreement and benefits students and teachers. We negotiated on a level of trust and got many things way above what the report recommended.”

School Board President, Brooke Ashjian, agreed with Rice calling it “a fair deal.” He said it was “fantastic.”

Trustee Ashjian expects the Board to approve the tentative agreement at the next Board meeting. “I believe this agreement will help improve our district. There are good things in it for students like the improvement of safety and discipline, smaller class sizes, and compensation for teachers. It is just a better environment for all parties involved.”

Many Bullard High School teachers were ecstatic too. One teacher, who opted to remain anonymous, said, “I am happy that negotiations are almost over, and after a quick survey of the tentative agreement I believe it is reasonable and I most likely will vote to ratify it.”  He also said “no disruptions in class time benefits our students.”

John Michael De La Cerda, an English teacher at Bullard, had decided against striking, so the news of a proposed contract was music to his ears. “I’m relieved, as I suspect everyone else is, with the tentative agreement.” He added that he was especially happy that the district kept its word by saying it would accept the fact finding report.” But his main concern was about students being taught by teachers that were not “highly qualified,” in the event of a strike.

Rice says they are working out details so teachers will soon be able to vote on the new contract. Both sides must ratify it before it becomes official.

 

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