Faced with a variety of choices to save the Hesperia Unified School District money -- and some of their fellow teachers' jobs -- Hesperia teachers voted for "none of the above" last week, although a majority favored some sort of cost-cutting measure.
"They had four choices, and they had to pick one of them," Hesperia Teachers Association President Jim Pace said Friday.
The teachers union approved a new contract earlier this year, which was negotiated prior to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing that the state was facing a billion-dollar deficit and that state school funds would face cuts. In the HUSD, up to 54 teachers could lose their jobs, although the district now believes that number has shrunk to 33.
Forty-seven teachers voted to not move up a step on their pay scale, or over to the next column if they qualified for a more highly compensated pay scale, based on improving their own educational credentials. The move would have saved the HUSD up to $2 million.
"Step and column [increases] probably affects 85 percent of the people," Pace said.
Fifty-nine teachers voted to defer the one-percent across-the-board raise teaches were scheduled to get in the 2008-2009 school year. The measure would save the HUSD an estimated $600,000.
Two hundred and forty-three teachers voted to take a day off without pay, a move that would save the district an estimated $300,000.
"Pretty popular item," Pace said.
But the winning choice was "none of the above" with 249 votes. But that vote doesn't fully reflect the will of the majority of the teachers, in Pace's mind.
"I think it's fairly clear from looking at the voting results that the membership is willing to make concessions to save their colleagues' jobs," he said. So, at Tuesday's meeting of school site representatives, he will recommend teachers have another vote, with just the top two vote-winners on the ballot: an unpaid furlough day and none of the above.
Pace believes that results, if there is a revote, should be known early on the week of May 26.
"A one-day furlough will save the elementary music program, if they vote for it," he said. "I think a half-dozen teachers were involved in that."
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.