San Carlos teachers in tough spot 

San Carlos teachers are on the verge of a decision that could result in either a strike in the fall or increased class sizes and possible salary reductions.

While the school district’s Board of Education has already decided to increase its kindergarten through fourth-grade class sizes by two students to help soften the blow of a $2.85 million cut to its $23 million budget, that increase is a breach of the teachers’ contract.

And a third-party, fact-finding panel — with representatives from the district and the union — reported that not only were the increases necessary, but so are possible salary reductions, additional furlough days and caps on wage increases.

“We need to get this resolved,” board President Mark Olbert said. “And it’s not as if the fact-finder came up with something radically different than what the board has already suggested.”

On Thursday, the board decided to extend its deadline for making adjustments to the teachers’ contracts from today to an ambiguous deadline.

The San Carlos teachers’ union, which represents about 150 teachers in the K-8 district who teach about 3,000 students, were scheduled to discuss the issues with Superintendent Craig Baker this week.

However, if the teachers simply don’t agree that they should have up to seven furlough days instead of two, among other changes, or that they have reached a stalemate, then they could eventually vote to strike, which would occur in the fall.

The board is supposed save about $1 million through contract negotiations. But with the board’s recent vote on extending its ability to change the contracts, a timeline has not been set.

“I’m really hopeful that we don’t have to impose a contract,” Olbert said.

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