Teachers frustrated by a year of fruitless contract negotiations in Port Hueneme took the offensive this week, complaining that their district's famed high-tech classrooms reflect the administration's skewed spending priorities.
Teachers at a packed meeting of the Hueneme school board also criticized the district's salaries and large class sizes.
Representatives of the district's 300 teachers claim that money for higher salaries is available but that some of it is being used to pay for the district's so-called "SmartClassrooms"--two classrooms and two high-tech vocational labs that use a sophisticated assemblage of computers, satellite technology, lasers and television to teach subjects ranging from science to industrial arts. Initiated in September, 1987, the program has generated interest worldwide. But some teachers claim that it is hurting the cause that it was formed to promote.
"Basically, the money has been coming out of the classroom and going to the district's priority, and we don't even know if computers work," said Rick Uelmen, a fifth-grade teacher at the district's Hollywood Beach Elementary School and president of the Hueneme Education Assn. "We're just going pell-mell into it, and that bothers us."
Administrators contend that the money being used to fund SmartClassrooms has come from special allotments such as school improvement funds, federal grants and lottery revenues.