San Ysidro teachers protest pay cuts, hiked insurance rates - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

San Ysidro teachers protest pay cuts, hiked insurance rates

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SAN YSIDRO (CBS 8) - Dozens of teachers in the San Ysidro School District pounded the pavement Thursday evening, protesting with picket signs what they say is an unfair contract proposal by district officials, including increased class sizes, hiked health insurance rates and an 8 percent pay cut.

"What the district is proposing is not acceptable," said kindergarten teacher Martin Galante. "We can't afford it!"

The district's teachers have been working without a contract for the past year.

Kindergarten teacher Judy Crespo has been working for the San Ysidro district for the last 29 years, and said sky-rocketing insurance rates passed on by the district have forced her to cross the border for health care.

"Now I have to take my daughter and myself to Tijuana for medical care," Crespo told CBS News 8. "That is a sad state of affairs."

District officials countered that all of its employees, including the school's administration, have had to take an 8 percent pay cut to try to balance the district's budget in an ongoing effort to prevent financial insolvency.

"It may be perceived as though we're being unfair, but we have to be solvent," said interim superintendent Gloria Madera.

And the possibility of financial insolvency - and a mandated takeover by the state - is very real.

Madera, who took an 11 percent pay cut, said that while San Ysidro's schools have made significant academic gains over the last five years, the state is only looking at the bottom line.

"If we don't reach an agreement, this (state receivership) is very possible," Madera added. "We are at the edge of the cliff."

A state-appointed mediator will bring representatives from the teachers' union and the district back to the negotiating table on Friday.

If San Ysidro is ultimately unable to balance its budget, it would become the first school district in San Diego county to fall under state receivership.

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