Before and after-school activities at Fresno Unified campuses would be suspended in the event of a teacher strike, district officials confirmed Thursday.
The issue arose as a question on a strike-related FAQ sheet published by the district on Sept. 29.
“Q. If a strike occurs, will community events be impacted?”
“A. Yes. In the event of a strike, to ensure safety and security all events in/on district property, outside of regular scheduled school hours, are suspended including community meetings/events, youth athletic tournaments, health center access and Green Space activity.”
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Activities that would be suspended include practice for high school sports, sporting events such as football games, club meetings, church meetings for groups who use school facilities and a teacher expo that was in the works, said Jessica Peres Baird, a spokeswoman for the district. The suspension would affect thousands of students.
“Many of our teachers are also coaches and club advisers,” Peres Baird said in an email. “In the case of a strike, which the district is continuously working towards avoiding, we want to make sure students are not exposed to extra-curricular activities without the necessary supervising staff.”
The district is working to make arrangements to continue providing before and after-school child care and after-school programs.
“We don’t want to put a strain on working parents,” she said.
Fresno Teachers Association representatives believe the district is using the FAQ to pin the negative effects of a potential strike on FUSD’s 3,800 teachers.
“Nobody wants to strike. Nobody wants to affect the day-to-day in students’ education, whether it’s in the classroom or extra curriculars,” said Manuel Bonilla, a teacher at McLane High and a member of the union’s bargaining team. “They want to pin this on teachers by saying we’re walking out on students, but they walk out on their students every day by not coming to the table and addressing the issues.”
Bonilla said the teachers union believes the FAQ was an appropriate method to communicate with the community, but the district used it to divide school employees.
“People in the community need to be asking why the district is not doing everything they can to avoid this,” he said, adding that if the strike happens the district must pay substitute teachers.
The union and district will meet on Friday for a negotiation session. Key issues the sides differ on are teacher pay, class sizes and health insurance costs. The previous contract expired in June 2016.