After two years of protest and negotiation by the staff of the Ventura Unified School District, a tentative agreement offered by the district administration to the Ventura Unified Education Association (VUEA) and the Ventura Education Support Professionals Association (VESPA) regarding the two percent on-schedule salary raise was voted and then passed on Jan. 12, 2018.
Along with the two percent increase in pay, the contract also grants nine personal days to the Ventura Unified staff instead of the original seven, as well as a bonus check of some amount out of $400, depending on the amount of time a staff member works (full time workers receive a bonus of $400, while a member who works eighty percent of the time receives $320).
Eighty-six percent of the teachers in the union have participated in this vote, much more than VUEA President Dan Nelson’s anticipated twenty percent.
Nelson expressed that he was “happy to see that many people expressing their opinion [in the vote].”
Out of that eighty-six, 69 percent affirmed and 31 percent negated the raise.
Nelson said that the recent fires initially sparked some sentiments against the contract among teachers who voted in favor, but according to Nelson, they realized that “‘it’s time for Ventura to focus on other things [… like] helping the students.’”
As for the 31 percent that voted against, Nelson plans to “find out what I need to do going forward, so I can try to have their concerns heard and maybe meet theirs as well.”
Nelson has “loved the way [the petition] turned out.” He is hoping that because of the salary increase, Ventura Unified will soon be on par with other districts so that they no longer “lose great teachers because of a [deficiency] in salary.”
This contract may have fixed the problem in earnings, but the lack of communication between staff and administration still has not been solved. In the future, Nelson wants to see the teacher union “have a seat at the table when deciding on big ticket items.”
“If I were to say anything, I would say ‘thank you’ to the members of the union,” Nelson stated. “They have just worked so hard for this. It’s been a long road, and they stuck with us the whole way.”