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East Ventura County Focus

MOORPARK : Teachers, District to Begin Contract Talks

October 05, 1994|SCOTT HADLY

Hoping to end a bitter contract dispute, the Moorpark Unified School Districts and the local teachers union are beginning a marathon series of negotiations tonight that could last all week.

Teachers in Moorpark formed picket lines on the first day of school, at the first school board meeting of the academic year and at parent-teachers nights demanding a new contract. They have worked without a contract for the last two years, and have not had a raise since 1990.

Last year negotiations broke down after the union, the Moorpark Educators Assn., rejected an offer by the district promising a three-year contract that included a 1% annual pay raise. The union wanted a 4% yearly raise for teachers.

But now, after district analysts discovered a potential deficit nearing $1 million for this fiscal year, even the 1% raise is no longer being offered by the district.

The school board's latest offer, made in mid-September, includes no pay raise. And while board members have all said they believe teachers deserve more money, many have also stated publicly that there is no money available for a raise.

The two sides will sit down in a closed-door session at 7 tonight and plan to meet all day Thursday and Friday.

Union President Richard Gillis would not comment on the district's reneging on its previous offer. He would only say the union was eager to begin negotiations with the district. School board members were equally cautious about commenting on the negotiations, saying that they also are looking forward to drawing up a new contract.

"I hope we'll be able to work something out," school board member Tom Baldwin said. "I hope when we go through the budget together during the negotiations, we can find some money for teachers. I know there can't be a whole lot there, but I hope we can find something."

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