CALEXICO — Teachers and employees expressed their views on negated increases in salaries the past four years during the Calexico Unified School District’s public comments of the board meeting at Cesar Chavez Elementary School’s multipurpose room Thursday, June 24.
Representatives and members of the Associated Calexico Teachers (ACT) and the California School Employees Association (CSEA) and their supporters filled the room as others stood along the walls.
They carried signs appealing to board members to better care for their employees. Some of the signs included: “Teachers deserve dignity and respect,” “Value all of your employees,” and “Care for your employees.” A young student held a sign, “Keep qualified teachers in Calexico.”
One of the educators who addressed the board members was English teacher Xavier Rodriguez. “If you want the best, you have to be willing to pay for the best,” he said.
Rodriguez — who taught for more than 20 years — reminded district officials that it’s not only salary negotiation that was involved, but also sending a message about what the district values the most.
“Do we value working tirelessly to keep so many outstanding teachers and to attract future generations of the best teachers we can find,” said Rodriguez, who also coaches both boys and girls tennis.
“I trust that you have the students’ best interests in mind because they deserve your best,” he said.
Health technician Patricia Bristow, said in an interview, “We are asking for a salary increase and health benefits.” According to her, she is not pleased with the district board members because salary negotiations were on hold. So far, there was no date in sight for any negotiations between district officials and ACT and CSEA.
Bristow said she would like the district to review the proposal, “give us what we deserve, and come to an agreement.”
Ana Lisa Pacheco also spoke at the podium. She told the board, CUSD has not offered any salary increases in 2018, 2019, 2020, and now 2021. Pacheco inquired, since there were no salary increases during those years, then, where were the reserves.
Belen Donato, CSEA Chapter 399 past-president, said she was not satisfied with the outcome of the evening’s meeting because nothing was resolved.
In addition to the issue of salary increase, Donato told district officials her concerns about possible radiation and cancer resulting from the construction of 5G antenna towers close to school sites. She asked if there was any public community forum about the construction.
“We want to know that we are safe, that our kids, employees, and citizens of Calexico are safe,” said Donato.