Negotiations between the Beverly Hills Unified School District and the teachers' union resume today in an atmosphere of escalating hostility after teachers voted last week to authorize a strike if a 1986-87 salary agreement is not reached.
Members of the Beverly Hills Education Assn., the union representing the district's 300 teachers, voted 239 to 19 on June 11 to give its negotiators authority to call a strike.
However, Jacques Bernier, chief negotiator for the union, said the vote does not place the district under an immediate threat of a walkout because more talks are scheduled and schools close for the summer today. Negotiators for the teachers do have the authority to call a strike when schools reopen in September.
School board President Betty Wilson said members of the school board were "shocked and disappointed" by the strike vote. She accused the union of grandstanding and "engaging in confrontational tactics."
District Supt. Leon Lessinger has vowed to keep the schools open with substitute teachers should the district experience the first strike in its history.
Bernier said that the association, which has been seeking a 7% pay increase, took the strike vote to express its opposition to the district's offer of a 3% raise. The district's offer would drop to 2% if the district receives less money from the state in its 1987-88 school budget than anticipated.
District negotiators told teachers last week that the state allocation will enable the district to meet the 3% increase next year but teachers are still angry over the contingency provision.
The average teacher salary in Beverly Hills is $39,000.
"It looks as if we are going to resolve the current impasse," Bernier said. "I'm optimistic because it looks promising."
District officials, still angry over the strike vote, declined to comment on the possible outcome of today's talks.
"I personally would not consider any offer from the association unless it is in writing," said school board member Mark Egerman.