La Habra City School District Teachers Walk the Line

Teachers protest cuts in pay and health care benefits.

Teachers in the La Habra School District began a strike Wednesday morning to protest of a 2 percent pay reduction and cuts to health care benefits instituted in November.

Talks between school district officials and the La Habra Education Association, which represents the district's 225 teachers, failed Tuesday afternoon, prompting Wednesday's walkout.

"It was obvious to our team they had no intention of bargaining," said spokesman for the California Teachers Association, Bill Guy,

The district's school board voted Nov. 18 to cut teacher salaries by 2 percent and force them to take two furlough days. The teachers will also have to help pay for some of their health insurance benefits.

District officials expect to save $220,000 over two years with the cuts.

Susan Hango, who was the school board's president when the cuts were imposed, said the cuts were necessary because of declining revenue from the state.

"We're dependent on the state and you know what situation the state of California is in so we're needing to be cost conscious," Hango said. "We have to be very, very careful how our money is spent."

The "big sticking point" is the board's insistence on making the cuts permanent, Guy said. That was also what prompted teachers in the Capistrano Unified School District to go on strike in April. That walkout lasted five days before board members agreed to revisit the cuts if the district's fortunes improved.

District officials plan to have substitutes and administrators teach during the strike.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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