Calaveras Unified School District Teachers Planning to Strike Thursday

CALAVERAS  COUNTY -- Teachers with the Calaveras Unified School District want answers.

And they want them now.

"It has moved so slow, at a glacial pace at this point," said Lorraine Angel, a chemistry teacher at Calaveras High School.

For the last 20 months Angel has been leading the teachers union in negotiations with the school district.

Recently, during a state fact-finding hearing, the state sided with the teachers, saying class sizes need to be reduced and a joint safety committee needed to be created. Also, the teachers needed a raise -- 4 percent for last school year, and a 2.5 percent increase for this school year.

"We're getting closer on safety and class size," Angel said.

But they're not getting any closer on the salary issue.

The district says their best offer is a 2 percent increase for last school year.

"We have made an offer that we feel is as fair as our district can afford, given current and future budget conditions," said Calaveras Unified School District Superintendent Mark Campbell. "Even with our current proposal of a 2 percent salary increase, we will still have to make additional budget reductions, in addition to those already planned, in order to have an approved budget."

Teachers say the median teacher pay within the district is $54,000.

A third-party study of about 10 similar size districts in the area revealed Calaveras ranked eighth in teacher pay.

Angel says this is the leading cause for losing good teachers to other districts.

"When you're raising a family, and you're young, it's hard to stay," she said.

The 69-year-old educator says this fight isn't just for her but for the next generation of Calaveras County teachers.

"We're looking farther than just today. We're looking far beyond this. We don't want to strike. Our heart is in the classroom with our kids," Angel said.