Julie Shipman, President of the Turlock Teachers Association, addressed the budget situation during the Staff Communications section of the Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) Board Meeting Agenda Tuesday night.
In previous meetings, suggestions of TUSD employees taking around 2 percent salary cuts and the possibility of taking furlough days instead as been an ongoing debate.
Shipman began addressing the stalled negations by saying “I’m truly at a loss of words when it comes to the lack of willingness on the part of the district to listen to anything we have to say. It’s either our way or the highway.”
“President Lima said a good resolution is when both sides are unhappy, yet the day after that meeting we were asked if we’re ready to go to impasse because they are. Is that working together?”
“The 77 pink slips out there, 8 displaced teachers from Osborn, and the possibility of another 32 or more teachers flip-flopping around the district, I just don’t see how the human resources department can get its job done.”
“We’d very much like to settle this contract, but you are the ones not willing to work for us and to give us the assurances in writing that cuts that may be taken would be temporary,” said Shipman. “We don’t need lip service; we need actions to back up what you would say.”
Shipman’s statements ended with questions of hope toward furlough days, as other districts have implemented, if the cuts really are needed. “Would you do the right thing? Would you show us the respect we deserve and negotiate with us rather than dictate?”
TUSD Trustee John Sims wanted to point out that he’s been hearing how the District has money in reserves to get them through the year without cuts and that he doesn’t really disagree, but that nobody knows how many years those reserves are going to have to carry the District with expected additional cuts.
TUSD President Frank Lima said “Everyone in this room has the same commitment to the well-being of our students and our community; we just… people have difference of opinion on how we need to get there.”
President Lima stated that he would like to know that cuts were temporary but they don’t and that the district is already planning on $3 million in cuts every year for the next two years.
President Lima later also pointed out that there are other ways to make cuts that would be more acceptable to the public and an easier sell such as freezing salary step increases, but that others have pointed out to him that would be more unfair. An example was made that a teacher topped out on the salary pay scale would not even be impacted whereas salary cuts reach across the board to everyone.
After Julie Shipman, TUSD Board Trustees, and others spoke during the Communications and Public Participation parts of the agenda, the TUSD Board voted 6-0 (Trustee John Sims abstaining due to potential conflict of interest) to authorize the district to layoff classified employees for lack of work and/or lack of funds upon forty-five (45) days prior notice, and due to a lack of work and/or a lack of funds, certain services now being provided by the District must be reduced or eliminated.
Classified employees have the right to bump other employees with less seniority in positions they have held previously.