Desert Sands teachers demonstrate for new contract

Teachers want more money after passage of Prop. 30. District says it's still waiting to see any money from same ballot measure

LA QUINTA, Calif. - More than 40 teachers along with friends and family showed up to demand a new contract with more money Monday afternoon, most dressed in black to show solidarity.

Kevin Colburn is a 5th grade teacher in the Desert Sands Unified School District.

When asked why the teachers were wearing black he responded, "Solidarity and mourning the respect, the lack of respect from the school board."

Teachers in the Deserts Sands Unified School District say they haven't received a pay increase since 2007, but the cost of their benefits continues to rise.

Mona Davidson is President of the Desert Sands Teachers Association. She tells us, "There are some teachers that are paying over 500 dollars a month out of pocket and we're talking teachers who don't make that much money."

Teachers in the Coachella Valley Unified School District were given a one thousand dollar stipend for helping to pass proposition 30.

But, teachers in the DSUSD were only offered a bump of $601.

Davidson said, "We want a thousand.  $399 per teacher is all we're apart."

The district failed to reach a resolution again Monday evening, board members saying they need to wait to make sure the money is there. Something they haven't seen yet from proposition 30.

DSUSD spokeswoman Sherry Johnstone said, "Prop 30 simply stopped drastic cuts from the end of this year. They would have been very, very deep cuts to the end of this year. It didn't bring new money, it actually let us continue the year without additional cuts."

The teachers union has another gripe with the district.

Colburn said, "They just hired a superintendent and gave them a 25 percent raise in pay and what do they do with us? They put us as third as priority."

Davidson said, "We feel like the school board was completely and totally irresponsible, fiscally irresponsible in giving a contract like that."

The new superintendent's salary of 257,000 dollars a year would make him the fifth highest paid in the state according to Davidson. She also said he'll receive an automatic five percent raise in two years.

So teachers are taking action by only working what their contract requires of them on Mondays as well as boycotting out of school events.

Teachers will continue to picket to put their message out, hoping desperately to get the respect they feel is missing.

Colburn said it's about more than the money. "It's sad," Colburn said. "That disrespect needs to stop."

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