By Nicholas Grube
Triplicate staff writer
Fourteen community members, many wearing "I support teachers" badges, told stories of how teachers in the district personally enhanced their lives, and the lives of their children, during public comments section of the Del Norte Unified School Board on Thursday.
The tactic was organized by the Del Norte Teachers Association to help garner support for a cost of living adjustment that would give teachers in the district a 4 percent increase in their salaries.
"Please do not turn your back on our teachers," Stephanie Neumann, a supporting parent, said during the public comment period. "Make our teachers a budgetory priority.
"During contract negotiations I want to remind you that it's (teaching) not a job, it's a lifestyle."
Neumann even went as far as to tell the board that if picket lines are set up between the teachers and the district, that she and her children will not cross. Instead, she added, she will keep her children home as an act of defiance and support.
"The best gift we can give to our teachers is to make them a budgetory priority," Neumann said.
The district offered teachers a 4 percent increase in salary, however, the proposed increase was not permanent. Instead, teachers would receive permanent 2.5 percent adjustment to their salary schedule and a one-year bonus of 1.5 percent.
Negotiations are at an impasse or standstill between teachers and the district. But on March 19 the two sides will hold an impasse meeting in which a mediator will work with the two groups to try and come up with a solution.
Also at Thursday's school board meeting the group decided to submit an application for Quality Education Investment Act funding for Joe Hamilton Elementary School.
If the groups receives the funds, the school will get about $1.5 million over the next seven years.
The board also discussed possibily adding an aviation ground course at the Del Norte County High School to teach students how to fly.
However, the board needs to discuss further about the logistics of the course, including such issues as liability insurance, cost of the course and its books (which are estimated to be $60 and $150, respectively) and the teacher credentialing of a flight instructor.
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