Students from Coachella Valley High School and Desert Mirage High School walked off campus Tuesday morning in support of Coachella Valley Unified School District teachers who have been in an ongoing battle over contract negotiations for more than a year.
"I mean it’s good because our education is very important. So the teachers need to get paid better," said high school student Jonathan Aguilar.
The walkout began at about 7 a.m. and students made the almost 8-mile trek to the district headquarters in Thermal.
KMIR News received dozens of calls and messages to our Facebook page regarding this walkout.
"We need tutor, we need all the benefits we can get. If we don’t, what are the seniors going to do they go off to college and need recommendations? Teachers aren’t going to do that on their free time," said high school student Leslie Castro.
The Coachella Valley Teachers Association and the Coachella Valley Unified School District have been negotiating teacher contracts since May 2015. Those negotiations fell apart and the two sides walked away from the table in May of this year.
"If you compare a first year teacher in with just a bachelors in Coachella, they make about forty-six thousand a year. You compare that same teacher to a teacher in Palm Springs or Desert Sands, they’re going to be making six or seven thousand more. I believe Palm Springs is at fifty-one to start," said Richard Razo, president of the Coachella Valley Teachers Association.
While an agreement on teacher salaries is close to being made, there is still debate over "collaboration time." Teachers are asking for an hour per week to give senior teachers an opportunity to mentor newer teachers.
"With collaboration time, it gives a teacher, a veteran teacher, an opportunity to work with a younger teacher and a younger teacher to learn from a veteran teacher to come up with best practices that are going to help our students," Razo said.
The district wants that time included as part of their current salaries but teachers want additional pay for that time.
Superintendent Darryl Adams assured students that an agreement would be made.
"I want to happily announce that I will be meeting with the board tomorrow, so I can meet with Mr. Razo to resolve it," Adams said to students at the district headquarters.
According to district officials, 21 of 52 certificated teachers from Saul Martinez Elementary and 25 out of 44 certificated teachers from Coral Mountain Academy called out sick Monday.