Davis School District teachers, hoping to avoid a threatened strike, are talking again with district officials who say they can't meet teacher demands.
And while teachers negotiate, angry district bus drivers are vowing to fight a proposed cut in their pay and benefits.According to Kathie Bone, president of the Davis Education Association, negotiations Wednesday were conciliatory, but during the all-day session district officials reiterated that they could not meet teachers' demands for a pay raise.
"They empathized with us and said they feel badly, but there is just no money," Bone said. "The district is willing to give us some things that don't cost anything."
Teachers are seeking a 4.3 percent wage hike. A survey of the teacher association members showed 90 percent said they want a pay increase even if it means program reductions or class-size increase.
Talks resumed this week after a hiatus while teachers waited for the outcome of a special legislative session. Appropriations of a state budget surplus brought no money for teacher raises.
Officials and teachers will meet again Wednesday, hoping to avert a strike that has been threatened by teacher representatives.
Meanwhile, a proposed cut in pay and benefits has angered bus drivers.
"We are willing to bite the bullet, but we want to see more teeth marks in the bullet," said driver's association president Karen Hillaker.
The district wants to cut drivers' wages by $2 an hour and reduce insurance and retirement benefits by one half. The district also wants to reduce the wages it pays drivers for lunch and activity runs.
The district proposes to phase in the cut in benefits over the next two years, Hillaker said.
The 126 drivers want the district to keep their current wage and benefit levels. District officials say the drivers, who on the average make between $10 and $12 and hour, are paid more than those in neighboring districts, Hillaker said.
The bus drivers will hold a meeting Monday before their representatives enter negotiations scheduled for Tuesday.