HAYWARD School officials today will request an injunction in hopes of ending striking teachers' fight for better pay.
The teachers union, the Hayward Education Association, was notified of the development Thursday by a fax from Laurie Juengert, an attorney for the district, that said Hayward Unified will "seek injunctive relief through the Public Employment Relations Board," according to the HEA.
Union leaders said the matter is being reviewed by an attorney for the California Teachers Association.
"They want to take us to court, but the ruling from the court of public opinion is in," said Mercedes Faraj, union vice president and bargaining chair. "It is that (Superintendent Dale) Vigil, (Assistant Superintendent Barry) Schimmel and the school board are guilty of having no respect for Hayward teachers, students and parents."
School officials say the union's "bad-faith bargaining" prompted the injunction.
"It's unrealistic, impossible to have 180 substitutes come in for 1,300 teachers," Vigil said. "We're asking (teachers) to come in (the classroom) and we can still negotiate. We want to settle."
School officials say they also are seeking legal action because the work-stoppage environment has jeopardized the safety and education of district students.
After the Public Employment Relations Board has received the district's request for an injunction, it will ask for the union to submit its reasons as to why its strike is legal.
In this case, an injunction if approved by the court would order the union to end its strike.
Sides had resumed talks Tuesday with a state mediator to review the budget and multi-year projections. The parties also exchanged and rejected counterproposals before breaking off and agreeing to meet the next day.
Wednesday's negotiations also proved to no avail, with the district leaving a new offer on the table and teachers returning to their original demands of a 16 percent increase paid out in increments over two years.
School officials say those demands would bankrupt a district that recently freed itself from a fiscal adviser.
"The board, staff and community have worked so hard over the last several years to bring the district back from the brink of bankruptcy," Sheila Vickers, who served as district fiscal adviser from 2003-06, said in a statement provided by Hayward Unified. "If the district gives in to the teachers union demands, the district will very quickly become bankrupt, will most likely bypass the fiscal adviser appointment and go directly to state control."
If that were to happen, the board and community would lose the power to make decisions on "what is best to serve Hayward's children," Vickers said.
Hayward Unified's latest offer to teachers includes a 5.5 percent increase retroactive to last July, added levels to the teacher-experience salary schedule, an extra increase of up to 1.6 percent dependent on district savings, and a one-time bonus dependent on next school year's ending balance.
Teachers saw the offer as an "insult" and an attempt by the district to divide the union, as certain aspects of the offer would be realized by only 138 teachers.
Much of the dispute revolves around how the two sides view the district's general funds. The district's recent budget shows about $17 million stashed away in Hayward Unified's piggy bank.
Teachers see this pot of money as a way to attain the same near-17 percent raise two assistant superintendents received last year. The district, however, says the money can be used only as one-time funding.
But several mandated costs and a required 3 percent reserve will strip the general fund's true pad down to about $8 million, according to the budget.
Hayward schools this school year received an 8.08 percent increase to bring their per-pupil funding up to the statewide average. The increase included the statewide Cost of Living Adjustment.
Public school funding in the state is solely dependent on daily student attendance. This stream of money covers every district need, such as staff salaries, facility upgrades, or repairs and supplies.
All things being equal, the statewide increase would have sent $9 million to the district. But an enrollment decline of about 1,100 Hayward students cut more than two-thirds of that potential new funding, leaving just $2.5 million, according to the district.
District teachers who must pay for their own health insurance are among the lowest paid when compared with those in other Alameda County unified districts.
Beginning certified-teacher salaries in Hayward are at about $48,000 yearly and rank 13th out of the county's 17 districts, according to the county Office of Education. In comparison, beginning Pleasanton teachers top the list with about $58,000 in annual earnings.
Furthermore, veteran teachers who have topped out on Hayward's salary schedule about $75,000 annually rank last among similarly qualified/ranked teachers in other cities. Hayward teachers have to pay for their own benefits, which is why their salaries rank at the bottom of county districts.
Union members said they don't buy into how school officials designed the budget, and say the funding is there to pay what they are owed. They also point out that teachers deferred raises in the past to help the district climb its way back into the black.
Their last significant salary increase came in 2004, when teachers received a 2.87 percent raise. Last school year, teacher salaries were nudged up by 0.83 percent.
When contract talks began in August, teachers used the near-17 percent increase two assistant superintendents received in June as the foundation for their salary demands.
Meanwhile, parents have grown frustrated with communication problems with school officials and are planning a protest march at 10 a.m. today, beginning at Weekes Park and ending at the district office.
Students, on the other hand, are concerned that they won't be prepared for standardized testing, which schools can begin next week. Schools have until May 21 to hold the exams with at least a 95 percent student participation rate.
Other students, such as Hayward High junior Cesar Delgadillo, are hoping the strike ends soon so they can review material for advanced placement tests being held next month.
"I've gone over material that my teacher left me," he said. "But other than that, I've just been studying on my own."
The HEA has shown solidarity on the picket lines and reports at least a 97 percent participation rate which district officials dispute among its 1,300 members during each of the six school days it has been on strike.
"If anything, the longer this goes on it brings us closer together," said Alan Pickering-Walter, a librarian at Ruus and Peixoto elementary schools.
"Teachers who didn't know each other before are really getting to know each other now."
Kristofer Noceda can be reached at (510) 293-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.