Fresno Unified School District slammed the teachers union on Monday over its contract demand for higher pay and smaller classes that the district says will result in red ink in the budget reserves by the third year of the contract.
“Fresno Unified has opened its finances to both the factfinding panel and to FTA directly, showing that their demands around salary and class size specifically would take the district reserves into the negative by year three of implementation,” the district said Monday afternoon in a news release. “That is unacceptable for Fresno Unified as fiscal stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Fresno Teachers Association officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
School districts in California are required to maintain sufficient budget reserves to keep operations going in the event of an economic downturn. Spokeswoman Nikki Henry did not immediately respond to a query about Fresno Unified’s required budget reserve.
The district also released the fact-finding report prepared by the mediator appointed by the Public Employment Relations Board. The recommendations included raising teachers’ pay in exchange for reducing contributions to the district’s self-funded health care agency. The fact-finder also recommended provided “Medi-gap” coverage for teachers retiring at age 57 1/2 with 20 or more years of service.
“Both of these proposals stretch the district financially further than the district intended, but in good faith Fresno Unified has taken these recommendations into consideration in the updated proposal” that was released Friday, the district said in the news release.
The district’s latest offer is for 14% in ongoing pay raises and two one-time raises of 2.5% in the second and third year of the contract, for a total pay increase over three years of 19%.
Union Vote Scheduled for Wednesday
The union is scheduled to hold an online meeting with members tonight. A strike authorization vote has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon if there is no contract agreement by then.
Henry said the two sides did not negotiate over the weekend or on Monday “due to scheduling conflicts on both sides.”
The district also criticized the union for its “unwillingness to productively negotiate,” since it has not updated its contract proposal since November 2022, and for failing to release the fact-finder’s report to its members or to the public.
Union officials had told members last week the union would make the report public on Saturday.
At a news conference Friday district officials urged teachers to read FUSD’s Proposal No. 2 before Wednesday’s strike authorization vote.
If Fresno teachers do go on strike, it will be the first time since 1978. Fresno Unified is prepared to hire 2,100 substitute teachers at $500 per day to keep schools open during a walkout.