Santa Rosa teachers protest at school board meeting

Nearly 40 teachers picketed outside a special meeting of district trustees at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country.|

Santa Rosa teachers demonstrated Wednesday evening outside the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, where the school board was gathered for a special closed-door meeting.

Santa Rosa City Schools and a labor group representing the district’s teachers have been at a prolonged standoff over employee compensation. Nearly 1,000 teachers have been working for 14 months without a contract, according to the Santa Rosa Teachers Association.

Thirty-eight teachers picketed outside the meeting to put pressure on the school board, which met with a labor negotiator during the closed session. Trustees also conducted the superintendent’s performance review.

School board president Jenni Klose declined to comment about the protest and the teachers’ claims while the district remains in negotiations.

Will Lyon, president of the teachers union, said the teachers’ last pay increase - of $2,500 - was in 2015-16.

The union was seeking a 3-percent salary hike and $5,000 toward medical benefits, Lyon said. The district came back with a one-day reduction in paid training, which would result in a half-percent salary decrease, he said.

The district is losing young teachers to neighboring school districts because they offer more competitive salary and medical benefit packages. Teachers don’t have to leave the area for these jobs, which makes them even more attractive.

“You just have to get off at another exit on the freeway,” Lyon said. “It’s hurting our kids because we’re losing good teachers.”

You can reach Staff Writer Eloísa Ruano González at 707-521-5458 or On Twitter @eloisanews.

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