With Sacramento City Unified teachers union members striking for the 6th day, 40,000 school kids are out of school again Wednesday. Teacher’s demands include COVID safety concerns, back pay for the past couple of years, and a “cost-of-living increase consistent with the Superintendent’s own contract.”
But according to teachers, there’s an even bigger deal: Jorge Aguilar, the Superintendent of the Sacramento Unified School District, is notorious for his refusal to meet in person with the union over the past three years, even during the last strike in 2019 where Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg had to intervene.
Now the Globe has been told by a teacher who asked for anonymity that Aguilar refused to meet with California’s elected State Superintendent of Education Tony Thurmond, who requested a 3:30 meeting last Friday. We have not been able to corroborate this but contacted the Superintendent’s office and will provide an update when we do.
Aguilar’s refusal to even be available to talk is significant, particularly after giving himself a raise during COVID, while the district refused to pay short-term, day-to-day substitutes, as required by Governor Newsom’s March 13, 2020 Executive Order, as the Globe reported. “According to documents provided by the Sacramento School District, Superintendent Aguilar’s total compensation climbed from $380,692.47 to $414,818, an increase of $34,126 or 9.0%” while city schools were locked down.
According to a retired teacher and SCTA member, Aguilar’s contract also allows a payout regardless of whether he remains employed, approved by the Sacramento City Unified School Board.
Now the SCTA accuses the Superintendent of moving the goal posts, adding in two new issues not previously discussed during the strike:
At least one board member went public expressing her frustration with Superintendent Aguilar last night.
As the Trustee for Area 7, I put my heart in the position I have assumed and consider my job on the Board seriously, with our students at the forefront.
All my brethren want is a fair and livable wage with benefits to maintain the health of their families and enough staff to support our students. There comes a time when we have to acknowledge the balance between our students’ wellness and them being out of the classroom for this long.
I believe the recent SCTA proposal is reasonable, in that educators are asking the District to agree to a cost of living increase in line with the times, extends the expired contract through June of 2023, and takes healthcare off the table until then or commits us to work together to obtain healthcare savings without reducing benefits so we can use those savings to improve services to our students.
Let’s get back to the reason why we all are here… our students.
Respectfully and in solidarity,
L. Gracie Phillips
For public school teachers to strike post-COVID closures is harmful enough, but the Superintendent refusing to talk with the union or State Superintendent signifies something else altogether, if this is true.
And shutting down public schools at a time when parents are removing kids at an unheard of rate shows the depth of the lack of leadership in the city and in the state.
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