Fresno Unified ends negotiations with teachers union

Fresno Unified School District superintendent Michael Hanson.
Fresno Unified School District superintendent Michael Hanson.

After months of negotiating and failing to agree on a set pay raise for teachers, the Fresno Unified School District and the Fresno Teachers Association are at a standstill.

The school district has made its “last, best and final” offer – a total 7 percent salary increase for teachers – but the FTA has declined that offer, calling for a slightly higher raise, smaller class sizes, and more school support staff like full-time nurses and social workers.

The two groups have completed 12 collective bargaining sessions but the school district refused to continue negotiations on Friday, and is calling on the Public Employment Relations Board to appoint a mediator to step in.

FUSD officials proposed a 5 percent ongoing salary increase for teachers in addition to a one-time 2 percent increase for the 2015-16 school year. The proposal also gives some money to school nurses and speech language pathologists, and an extra $315 to each teacher to be used for student supplies.

According to FUSD, the school district’s proposal would cost the district nearly $57 million, while the FTA’s proposal would cost up to $176 million over the next three years.

FTA’s recent multiyear proposal would unravel a decade of fiscal stewardship and prudent board decisions.

FUSD Superintendent Michael Hanson

FUSD Superintendent Michael Hanson said in a statement Friday that FTA’s proposal would drive the district to a negative reserve and “would unravel a decade of fiscal stewardship and prudent board decisions.”

“This action would eliminate the Board of Education’s ability to continue investing in our students, keeping them in school and on target to graduate,” he said.

A statement from FTA on Friday said that FUSD’s refusal to continue negotiations “indicates students and educators in this district are not the priority.”

“Our proposal was designed to begin the process of transforming public education in FUSD. Instead, the FUSD bargaining team declared impasse today,” the union said. “This was no surprise.”

Students and educators in this district are not the priority.

Fresno Teachers Association

The negotiations come amid a federal investigation of the school district’s spending.

Last month, FTA President Tish Rice called for Hanson and other top district officials to step down, citing concerns about the ongoing investigation, but Hanson decried those concerns, saying she was merely upset over the negotiation process.

Mackenzie Mays: 559-441-6412, @MackenzieMays