Alpine teachers strike after union-district negotiations fail

ALPINE - More than 90 teachers at five schools in the Alpine School District in San Diego's East County region went on strike on Thursday.

Classes remained in session with substitute educators, according to Superintendent Tom Pellegrino.

At issue is an effort by the district to cut $1.35 million from its budget. According to U-T San Diego, the district last month imposed a 7.58 percent salary cut for teachers and trimmed its maximum contributions to
employee health benefits from $13,500 to $8,000 a year.

According to a statement from the district's trustees, personnel costs make up 87 percent of expenses, making the cuts necessary.

The Alpine Teachers Association contends the district underestimated how much state funding it will receive, and that the cuts disproportionately harm teachers.

According to the ATA, actually salary reductions to individual teachers are far higher than 7.58 percent. One instructor could see 60 percent less pay, the union said.

"Unfortunately, the district is intent on building their reserve fund and breaking teachers' backs financially, based on faulty financial assumptions," ATA President Gayle Malone said. "Ultimately, it is the students and the entire community who will suffer."

Pellegrino said attendance was running at 64 percent of average on Thursday.

Teachers were picketing outside some schools.

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