South Bay teachers fight to save salaries: School board fears state takeover could be worse

SAN DIEGO - A school board meeting became heated Monday night in San Ysidro as teachers continue to fight to save their salaries.

Dozens of teachers protested outside first and then took their voices inside San Ysidro Middle School's auditorium for the district to hear their concerns. But the district says it has the teachers' best interests at heart.

Fifth grade teacher Jeff Scarlett was clearly adamant that teachers' salaries should not be cut and that to find the savings, the board should look within.

"Our job is to raise test scores, mission accomplished," said Scarlett angrily at a podium set up in front of the board members. "It's your job to balance a checkbook. It doesn't sound that difficult."

Before the meeting, he and dozens of other San Ysidro School District teachers stood together holding signs against what they say is a proposed 8 percent salary cut each year for the next three years. Teachers in San Ysidro say they have not had across-the-board raises in nine years.

As 10News has reported, San Ysidro is the same school district that voted out its superintendent earlier this year, but continues to pay his $185,000 salary for the next year.

"I would normally side with the teachers," said school board member Antonio Martinez. "In fact, I would even have a sign."

As 10News first reported in April, San Ysidro is one of nine school districts in San Diego County which might have trouble paying its bills.

Martinez said he worries the state may soon take over the San Ysidro District and teachers will face more cuts than just the eight percent.

"My fear is the consequences regarding a state takeover. We cannot let the state take us over. I will not let that happen," he said.

Teachers like Scarlett say they all deserve better.

"I respect those who respect me," he shouted as he walked away from the podium to cheers and clapping from fellow teachers.

The district and teachers' union are at impasse, with the union hoping for a mediation meeting in January. Teachers tell 10News they are prepared to strike.

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