Lewis Griswold

Griswold: Visalia teachers to get raise

Visalia teachers are on track for a 1.65% pay raise next school year.

But the teachers will get some additional cash soon because the increase also will be applied to their current-year salaries and retroactively to the year before.

The pay raise is in the new contract that Visalia teachers ratified last week and that the Visalia Unified school board will consider on Tuesday. Approval is likely.

The contract reverses the 2010 pay cut that was implemented when the district, reeling from state budget cuts, chopped three days off the work schedule -- one teaching day and two staff-development days.

The district can afford raises for the current year and retroactively for the year before because the money had been set aside in anticipation of mid-year budget cuts that never took place this year, said Cindi Costa, assistant superintendent of human resources.

Karl Kildow, president of Visalia Unified Teachers Association, the teachers' union, said the new agreement "is good for kids because teachers will be back in the classroom."

Not only will a day of instruction be restored, but teachers no longer will be yanked out of class for training -- and replaced by a sub -- with the resumption of the two staff development days, he said.

An interesting twist is that the restored instructional day will be moved to the last Friday in August and will be a full day. The day that was lost three years ago was the day before Thanksgiving and was a half-day of instruction.

NIGHT MOVES

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors will hold night meetings five times this year. This might be a first for the body.

Meetings will rotate by district, with the first at 7 p.m. March 12 at Farmersville City Hall.

"I want the public to have an opportunity to get to know county government," Chairman Pete Vander Poel said. "I know that the majority of people work from 8 to 5."

Fellow supervisors are fine with the change, he said. When and where the other meetings will take place has yet to be determined, but there's history.

In 2005, supervisors held meetings away from chambers when Connie Conway -- now minority leader in the Assembly -- was chairwoman. The meetings during daylight took place at city council chambers in Tulare, Lindsay, Porterville and Dinuba, and the Visalia Convention Center.

IN-SHAPE

In-Shape Health Clubs is getting ready to open a fourth gym in Visalia.

The new club will be at Caldwell Avenue and Mooney Boulevard behind Sears and Hobby Lobby in a 19,000-square-foot building that was formerly a gym.

The target date for opening In-Shape "Fit" is June 1, said company spokeswoman Michelle Clark in Stockton.

The new gym is for the budget conscious. There's no pool, kids area or live instructors, but lots of equipment and self-service kiosks where individuals or groups can choose an activity -- yoga, kickboxing, etc. -- and follow along on a screen. The best part is the price: $10 a month.

Visalia is one of the company's best markets, Clark said. She credited exercise programs, modern facilities and good locations. Other Visalia sites are Mooney Boulevard at Tulare Avenue, Demaree Street just south of Goshen Avenue, and the Winco Shopping Center on West Caldwell Avenue.

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