State Superintendent Steps In to Help End New Haven Unified School District's Teachers Strike

The state's highest-ranking school official stepped in Friday to help bring an end to the New Haven Unified School District's teacher strike, now in its ninth day.

With the end of the district's school year looming on June 13, a spokeswoman for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said he's eager to see the strike wrapped up.

"This is not typical of the superintendent of public instruction to be this involved (but) he was kind of feeling like it had gone on long enough," said spokeswoman Kindra Britt.

Thurmond has sat down with negotiation teams in three other teacher strikes this year, including the Oakland and Los Angeles strikes, both of which ended with contract offers that were ratified by the teachers unions.

The threat of students potentially not being able to participate in graduation ceremonies and other end-of-year activities "really struck a nerve with him," Britt said.

"I am happy to do what I can to help with this strike, but I want it known that my priority is to end it," Thurmond said in a news release.

"And I will do what I can to encourage all parties to stay at the table until a resolution is reached, preferably as soon as possible."

Teachers originally asked for a 10 percent pay hike over two years, but are now proposing cost of living adjustments of 3.7 percent for this year and 3.26 percent for next year, according to New Haven Teachers Association officials.

The district originally countered with a 1 percent raise for 2019-2020 and a one-time 3 percent payment, along with an additional raise of up to 1 percent if it was able to add up to $2 million to its budget.

The district is now offering a 3 percent increase for this year and a 2 percent pay hike in January 2020, according to district officials.

Meeting the teachers' current demands would force administrators to make budget cuts that "are not in the best interest of the students," district officials said in a written statement late Thursday night.

Teachers plan to meet at noon Friday in Birchfield Park in Hayward, near the Alameda County Office of Education, where the negotiations are taking place, to have a picnic and rally in support of their demands.

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