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Teachers being asked to give more
MEA: Theyve already taken $15.9M from teachers
Superintendent Jason Messer, shown during one of the budget reduction committee meetings in January, indicated Tuesday more cuts are needed. - photo by Bulletin file photo
It wasn’t too long ago that the Manteca Educators Association, as a cost-cutting move for Manteca Unified’s budget shortfall for the upcoming year, agreed to a 1.8 percent reduction in salaries coupled with three furlough days.

District officials, after all, had managed to negotiate 5 percent reductions from the other unions, with hopes of getting MEA to agree on the same figure.

On Tuesday, the board of trustees unanimously approved to take MEA back to the bargaining table for the contract covering 2009-10 school year. The current one, according to its president Ken Johnson, expires June 30.

“I want to ask why (the school board) wishes to retroactively renegotiate our agreement for the 2009-10 school year? Why is it that MEA and only MEA is being singled out?” he said.

With the June 30 deadline by the state looming, the board earlier adopted a $154 million budget for the upcoming school year.

Included were cuts in services, staff, programs and employee compensation totaling $32 million.

Superintendent Jason Messer, noting the state’s current fiscal crisis, indicated recently that Manteca Unified will have to do more with less in educating students.

The district, for starters, will go forward next year without the state-funded class size reduction programs for kindergarten-through-third-grade students and certain freshmen classes.

“Most surrounding districts are keeping it,” Johnson said. “We, on the other hand, are taking the money and running.

“And we are using class size reduction to solve our fiscal mismanagement.”

In fact, he believes that the district is balancing its budget on the backs of students and teachers.

“Let’s look at the numbers,” Johnson said. “First of all, we are laying off 115 primary teachers (at about $65,000 each). This is a saving to the district of $7.5 million.

“Not only that, they’re laying off an additional 35 teachers at 65k each for a savings of $2,275,000. So far, we have $9,750,000 in teacher salaries.

“Add another $400,000 that the district will save by not implementing class size reduction – whether it reduces class sizes or not – and we’re up to a total of $13,250,000 in misery and suffering.”

Johnson, who spent some time prior to the meeting crunching the numbers, also factored in the $1.8 million in pay cuts that teachers gave up during the recent negotiations along with money not used for class size reduction.

“That’s a grand total of $15,950,000 from the pockets of the teachers,” he said.

 Johnson added: “We know that the state budget has worsened, but MEA has given the largest pay cut in either neighboring county of any teachers, and yet we are now being asked to give more.”