Teachers upset over stalled salary talks with Lucia Mar School District

Jan 26, 2015

Students run toward the classrooms at Oceano Elementary School, one of the campuses within the Lucia Mar School District
Credit LMUSD Facebook Page

Teachers in San Luis Obispo County's Lucia Mar School District are preparing to show their frustration Tuesday night over a contract salary issue.

Their union, the California Teachers Association, is hoping to get roughly half of the district's 500 instructors to show up at the scheduled district board meeting in Arroyo Grande.

While the salary issue could boil over into a teachers' strike, Donna Kandel, President of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association says she's hoping it doesn't come to that.

"We don't want to reach that point," said Kandel. "Our goal is to get the board to give us a settlement. We've asked for a fair share and the district has received a substantial increase in revenue this year, and we want to continue to be an equivalent portion of the budget."

Kandel says teachers in neighboring districts like San Luis Coastal and Santa Maria-Bonita make substantially more than those in Lucia Mar.

The district says its last offer of a two percent raise would bring the total increase over three years to nearly nine percent, more than any other district in SLO County.

Lucia Mar and the Teachers Association are scheduled to meet at the end of February to discuss the facts.

Kandel and the district agree that part of the problem is how the different districts are funded. Neighboring districts are funded at much higher per pupil levels and have a higher base rate of pay. Other nearby districts that have similar funding to Lucia Mar include Atascadero, Templeton and Paso Robles.

The district says, when compared to like-funded districts, the Lucia Mar base teacher pay is "equal or higher."

Kandel believes California's Local Control Funding Formula will eventually level the playing field, but not soon enough to address this current contract issue.