By Karen Wilkinson

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte County School District teachers rallied before and after school Wednesday in a show of solidarity that they're serious about reaching an agreement over salary raises.

andquot;I think the (Del Norte Teachers Association) is making sincere efforts to address the realities,andquot; said Del Norte High School teacher Calie Martin. andquot;I think everybody realizes the cost of living has gone up, yet our salary hasn't gone up accordingly.andquot;

Since October, teachers have been negotiating privately with the school district over salary raises. In December, they reached an impasse, requiring an outside mediator to help both parties come to an agreement early next month.

andquot;I would love to solve this thing either before or after impasse,andquot; said Del Norte Teachers Association President Mike Mealue, adding that many school districts across the state are settling with 4 percent to 7 percent salary increases for teachers.

Del Norte High teacher Patrick Smith said he believes in strong unions and teachers and participated in the andquot;walk-in, walk-outandquot; to support his colleagues.

andquot;We'd like our teachers to have high priority in the district,andquot; Smith said.

The rallying was a way to call attention to the needs of teachers in the district, Martin said.

andquot;Ultimately the better the teachers' needs are met, the better the students' needs will be met,andquot; she said. andquot;The message today seems to be 'do more, do it better with less.'

andquot;I don't know of any teacher who isn't doing 100 percent or working at least 60 hours a week.andquot;

School district officials will not comment on the issue.

Teachers and school district officials are scheduled to meet with the mediator Feb. 5.