Teachers from San Jose's Evergreen School District handed out leaflets to parents and picketed in front of schools Monday morning to protest the district's latest contract bargaining proposal.
The teachers distributed leaflets and picketed at school sites throughout the district starting at 7:45 a.m., with strong turnouts at Holly Oak and Cedar Grove elementary schools.
The president of the Evergreen Teachers Association, Brian Wheatley, was at the demonstration at Holly Oak and explained the protest.
"We are frustrated," he said. "They feel they have given all they can give, and the district is offering a zero percent salary increase and charging more for benefits, resulting in a $2,700 pay cut.
"As teachers, we have a professional obligation to stand up for our students and our profession," Wheatley said earlier. "We’ve had enough! We are willing to strike, if necessary. Nothing will change until we demonstrate things must change."
The district says it is facing a nearly a $3.5 million budget deficit for the 2018-19 school year and a $12 million shortfall the following year. Administrators say they simply can't afford to give teachers what they're asking for.
The district also has seen a significant drop in enrollment.
"What it means is we are losing students, families are moving out," district spokesman Charles Crosby said. "We lost 2,000 students a couple years ago, and we anticipate we will soon lose 1,000 more, so that impacts our funding in a very serious way."
Most teachers in the district make between $65,000 and $96,000 a year, among the highest for teachers in the region.
The district is having an independent party study the issue and make recommendations for both sides. If an agreement can't be reached, the teachers said they are prepared to strike in the fall.
Bay City News contributed to this report.