Hundreds of frustrated parents took their kids out of school for the second day in a row, protesting outside the San Lorenzo Unified School District Office.
At issue is the teachers’ demand for a 6.2 percent base pay raise while district officials say they can only offer a 1.5 percent bump.
Toward that end, parents and students toted slogans and shouted, "Pay our teachers!" in front of the Usher Street office.
Sonia Sablan, who also works as a lunch supervisor for the district, pulled her three children out of school Tuesday saying this lesson is greater than the one they would learn in the classroom: how to stand up for what you believe in.
"If we do have our strike in January, February, what do I do with my kids then?" she asked. "Allow them to go into classes with teachers, with substitutes who are not familiar with their learning?"
More than 1,200 absences were reported in the district on Monday, including 650 at San Lorenzo High School. The absences amounted to a $44,000 loss for the San Lorenzo Unified School District in attendance funding.
Superintendent Fred Brill said the district is already operating in the red and said pulling kids out of school will only hurt the district's efforts to increase pay for teachers.
But Donna Pinkney, president of the teachers' union — the San Lorenzo Education Association — attended the protest and said a strike is likely.
"There is quite a bit of distance between us," Pinkney said.
Teachers believe the district amassed $25 million in new revenue over the past three years that could be spent to boost their pay, making the district more competitive with its neighbors, according to the union's Facebook page.
Brill, however, said that is not how it works.
The district's money is not general fund cash, he said, adding that it "shall" — by state directive — go to increasing services and programs to boost learning for special needs or disadvantaged students, including English learners and low-academic performers. It’s a group, he said, that makes up more than 60 percent of the district's student population.
"I cannot … support decisions that would bankrupt the district and put us in state receivership," Brill said. "I worked in Oakland when they were in state receivership. I don’t want a bureaucrat or accountant making decisions based on numbers and not children."
Brill also said he’s hopeful both sides can come to an agreement before a possible strike in February.
Talks stalled after beginning spring of last year. A state-appointed mediator was unable to help the two sides come to resolution so now they are waiting for a fact-finding panel on Jan. 20. A neutral representative, chosen by the district and union, will sit on the panel. The results won’t be public for more than a month after the process begins.
NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro contributed to this report.