HAYWARD — Teachers resumed their battle for better pay with more picketing Monday, then announced a bargaining session with district representatives at 1 p.m. today at an undisclosed location.

"We'll continue to be on strike until we reach a fair and equitable settlement," Kathy Crummey, Hayward Education Association president, said earlier Monday.

At the same time, school officials called on teachers to end the work stoppage.

"We again call on union leadership to end the strike and ask teachers to return to the classroom," Superintendent Dale Vigil said at a press conference.

Educators apparently ignored the message, as the union reported 99 percent of its 1,300 members picketed on Monday.

But some of them still had the urge to teach.

Bowman Elementary teachers set up "strike schools" at the park near campus and read aloud to about 25 students. The one-hour afternoon program was in response to parents concerned over their children's lack of education.

"We want to be in classroomsteaching, so this is an alternative," teacher Veronica Cabral said. "(Teachers) want to reach out to students and give them some form of education."

Math games will be held at the park this afternoon by teachers.

If the strike continues, Cabral said, canopies will be set up at the park for teachers to hold similar programs.

"We have packets of work for them to do, reading comprehension and we're just accessing prior knowledge," she said.


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Meanwhile, Vigil has asked the Alameda County Office of Education to do a detailed analysis of the district budget.

Union leaders questioned the move.

"There's not much she can do," Marty Kahn said, referring to Sheila Jordan, superintendent of county schools.

Kahn, a California Teachers Association financial adviser, worked with teachers on their latest salary demands.

"Her role is to review the budget when there is a settlement," he said.

Jordan said any comment would impede the negotiation process, and she confirmed that her staff is reviewing the district budget. Jordan has sent an open invitation for the two sides to meet at the county offices in Hayward to work out an agreement.

During Hayward Unified's past years of financial turmoil, Jordan's office had to approve every financial decision the district made. But since the district recently freed itself from a state fiscal adviser and now has a "healthy" budget, her office mainly watches that the district remains in the black.

"Poor decisions by the board can easily bring us back where we were five years ago," she said.

Teachers on Monday continued to demand a pay increase around 16 percent, broken down in several "phases" over two years. The percentage is equivalent to what Hayward Unified awarded two assistant superintendents last year.

When asked, Vigil said the district has not considered rescinding those raises because "the issue was negotiated last year."

Crummey, on the other hand, declined to "bargain in the media" when asked whether the union's offer would change if the district were to rescind the raises.

Earlier this month, teachers walked off the job for two days before spring break.

About 22 percent of Hayward Unified's 20,000 students attended class Monday, Vigil said, up from the 21 percent the district reported on the strike's first day and the less than

10 percent of pupils who showed up the day after.

Vigil said he hopes the numbers will increase throughout the week, and he continued to encourage parents to send their children to school.

HEA members are under a three-year contract that ends in June 2008 and calls for mid-contract negotiations. The two sides have been working on a settlement since August.

Teachers voluntarily waived raises in the past to help the district work its way to a positive budget.

Their last significant salary increase came in 2004, when teachers saw a 2.87 percent raise. Last school year, teacher salaries bumped up by an incremental 0.83 percent.

"We're in a recovery mode right now," said Mercedes Faraj, HEA vice president and bargaining chair. "We've been waiting a long time."

Beginning certified-teacher salaries in Hayward, about

$48,000 yearly, 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.

School officials maintain that if they handed out the raises teachers are demanding, the district would go bankrupt. Officials say the latest offer is the best they can do while declining enrollment stifles district funding.

That offer revolves around a 7 percent raise beginning in July with the potential to reach 8.6 percent over two years, if district savings allow.

The package includes a

3 percent one-time increase for this school year, retroactive to July.

"We can only give what we have," Vigil said. "And what we have is on the table."

For more HUSD coverage, visit The Daily Review's blog, The HayWord, at http://www.ibabuzz.com/hayword. Kristofer Noceda can be reached at (510) 293-2479 or knoceda@dailyreviewonline.com.