OAKLAND — Cancel that baby sitter. Oakland schools won't shut down March 24, as planned. The one-day teacher strike has been rescheduled for April 22.
The union can't legally strike until the nonbinding recommendations of a neutral "fact-finder" are released, and that isn't likely to happen until late March or early April, union President Betty Olson-Jones announced. Spring break is the week of April 4.
"Because this situation remains fluid — i.e., we are not strike-legal until the fact-finding report is released, we urge you to keep checking the OEA (Oakland Education Association) Web site for the most up-to-date information," Olson-Jones wrote in an e-mail to union members.
The union, which has been without a contract for 20 months, overwhelmingly rejected the school district administration's last offer, which included no changes to the pay scale. The average base salary for teachers is $53,800, plus about $10,000 in benefits.
The district administration says it wants to better compensate its employees, possibly with funds from a November parcel tax, but that its budget is tighter than ever. Chief Financial Officer Vernon Hal estimates the district has to cut $36.5 million from next year's budget, about 15 percent of its general purpose funds. Superintendent Tony Smith said the ongoing decline in education funding, resulting from the state's fiscal crisis, shows no sign of stopping.