Community Support Sought by Glendale Teachers Association

Educators rally in front of Rosemont Middle School to garner support for ongoing negotiations with GUSD.
Photo by Bethany BROWN

By Bethany BROWN

Members of the Glendale Teachers Association (GTA) stood in solidarity at all Glendale campuses on Thursday, Jan. 27 to bring awareness to the community of GTA’s newest contract proposal before the GTA bargaining team returned to the negotiating table later that same day.

Educators wore red clothing, stood outside of their schools and held signs with positive messages as cars lined up for the usual morning drop-offs. Flyers were distributed to GUSD parents to inform families about how the proposal would benefit students and families throughout the district.

GTA Vice President Lisa Avery said for the last two years they’ve been solely focused on discussing safety issues surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to negotiate wages or any other possible changes to our working conditions. But now we’re finally back at the bargaining table to talk about a wage increase as well as a variety of other changes to help make Glendale schools’ programs stronger,” Avery said. “We’re starting with making sure that everyone knows Glendale teachers really do have their students’ best interest at heart.”

On Jan. 14, GTA initially proposed a 7% salary increase for the 2022-23 academic year, which GUSD countered with a proposal of a 3.5% salary increase. As of Jan. 27, the suggested wage increase on both sides remained unadjusted. While this is a start, GTA emphasized that there is still “a ways to go” to obtain a wage compensation package that matches the increase in state revenue.

GTA’s proposal highlights its potential ability to help the GUSD community to attract and retain high-quality educators by offering competitive salaries and stipends. They believe building a strong and successful academic program requires a stable faculty of high-quality educators.

Avery said this is especially relevant with the State of California beginning to implement TK programs as of this year. TK, or transitional kindergarten, is the steppingstone between preschool and kindergarten and will allow every 4-year-old the opportunity to attend a high-quality, developmentally appropriate pre-K program. It will be gradually phased in over the next five years on all public-school campuses.

“The addition of TK means significantly expanding the number of students in our district which also means that the district will need more teachers,” Avery said. “We’re going to have 4 year olds on our campuses for the first time ever; we need to make sure that the people [who] are working with our youngest students are going to be highly qualified teachers who have experience with that age group.”  

It is also believed that teachers who live in the community where they serve have a stronger commitment to students and their families. However, housing costs have negatively impacted most educators. Housing prices for both homeowners and renters in the local area are high, which makes it difficult for Glendale educators to live in the area where they work. Increased pay could make living in the area more feasible.

Additionally, offering stronger incentives for educators to participate in professional development outside of the workday would result in better serving students in the classroom. Site-specific stipends would be provided to hire more advisors, which would allow more extracurricular opportunities to be offered to students. Schools would no longer have to make the choice between one program or another and instead could offer both, which would result in students being able to explore many choices until they find the one best suited for them.

“We are really working hard to make sure that Glendale continues to have strong programs that support students and families in a variety of ways,” Avery said. “I know that both GTA and the district are interested in coming to an agreement sooner rather than later, but it is a process that we must work through and, in a lot of ways, it can’t be rushed. There’s a lot of discussion and figuring out where the middle ground is – it just takes time.”

Avery invited community members who wish to express their support of GTA’s proposal to contact the school board either by email or by speaking at an upcoming meeting. The next bargaining meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 7.