Hundreds of San Ramon Valley teachers converged onto the school district's administrative complex and into the board chambers Tuesday evening in Danville to show support for their union's bargaining team amid ongoing labor negotiations with district officials.
San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA) members were expressing frustrations with this year's negotiations, unhappy with the district's latest offer of a 3% salary raise as well as the level of respect union representatives have received at the bargaining table, according to the California Teachers Association.
"We are close to a settlement, but we want to make sure that our district understands that we can be trusted in negotiations, and that we stand together in order to get the best settlement possible," SRVEA president Ann Katzburg said later Tuesday night.
"Our members care deeply about the education of all of our students in the San Ramon Valley," she added. "Our working conditions are our students' learning conditions. We want our district to invest in their No. 1 asset, the educators -- because our students deserve a quality education."
More than 600 SRVEA members crowded in and around the school board meeting Tuesday night for the show of support, many wearing red clothing and accessories and some holding signs with messages such as "Fair pay = high morale," "All our children deserve teachers who are supported," "Teachers are worth it" and "SRVEA strong."
District officials appreciated the teacher turnout Tuesday night and remain focused on solidifying a contract that's beneficial to both parties and ensures the district stays "an excellent place to work and for parents to send their students to school," according to district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich.
"The San Ramon Valley Unified School District administration and Board of Education values our teachers and are fully committed to negotiating a settlement that is mutually agreeable to both sides of the table," she said Wednesday morning.
"Unlike many districts across the state we have not had to face layoffs this year, or in the recent past," Graswich added. "Our Board of Education is committed to maintaining fiscal solvency, providing outstanding programs for students and minimizing employee layoffs in future years."
This is the first year of labor negotiations under superintendent Rick Schmitt, who took the helm at the district last July after Mary Shelton retired as superintendent.
The largest employee union in the district with more than 1,700 members, SRVEA represents teachers as well as counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and speech pathologists.
Last year, SRVEA members received a 5.07% salary increase and a one-time payment worth 4% of their annual salary, plus other incentives.
They also received compensation increases in 2015 (2% salary increase, plus a 2.38% bonus), in 2014 (4% salary bump) and 2013 (4% bonus) after not getting any pay raises since 2007 amid the recession.