Calexico Unified School District (CUSD) officials bore witness as Association of Calexico Teachers (ACT) took to the streets Tuesday morning in a show of strength and to demonstrate their support for fair wages that will help the district draw the next generation of teachers to make their career in the Calexico community.
In the Imperial Valley, the Association of Calexico Teachers (ACT) has a history of having fought for and won some of the best benefits in the County-and beyond. Over the years they have made sacrifices in salary in order to keep them.
As negotiations continue in earnest, ACT is rejecting any notion that members must trade them away on the altar of higher salaries; “Our biggest calling card is that we have great insurance and in order to entice teachers we need to keep that plus increase our base,” said Darla Dreesen, ACT Vice President.
Calexico High School English teacher Ellie Holloway expressed a concern held by many of her colleagues as ACT negotiates; “We’re having a very difficult time, getting teachers to want to apply to our district.”
Holloway said many students currently have substitute teachers as instructors due to a high number of vacant positions in the district. She said parents should be concerned.
ACT believes that the district’s current shortage of teachers is due to the wage disparity between Calexico Unified School District (CUSD) and other districts in Imperial County, and making it a competitive pay district would improve CUSD’s ability to attract the next generation of teachers for the Calexico community.
Calexico teachers argue they are long overdue for a raise and that their salary is not competitive with other school districts in the valley. With the statewide teacher shortage ongoing, finding qualified candidates is increasingly difficult. “We have under-qualified teachers that are applying; if we do this we are going to lose the qualified teachers we have. They’re going to go to other districts and earn more money,” said Holloway.