New school board seeks harmony with teachers

With two teachers union-backed candidates winning seats on the Santa Rosa School Board, some members foresee more cooperation on the lingering pay dispute that could ease contention with District Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick.

“We need to look at our priorities, which include instructional salaries,” said Wei Ueberschaer. She defeated District 5 board incumbent Scott Peden, winning 53 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election.

On Wednesday, Ueberschaer said that she supports raises for teachers that are larger than the district’s recommendation that was adopted by a 5-0 board vote in August 2017 despite being smaller than the 2.77 percent annual hike recommended by a special magistrate brought in to mediate the matter.

Linda Sanborn, a 35-year veteran teacher who won the District 1 seat vacated by long-time board member Diane Scott, told the Navarre Press that she wants to see the pay issue resolved amicably: “I ‘m tired of the adversarial atmosphere surrounding the relationship between the teachers and the administration.”

In a race that was amicable on both sides, Sanborn garnered 63 percent of the vote, compared with 37 percent for her opponent, Rod Gracey.

Sanborn added, “We can develop that trust again. When I started teaching at Milton High School in 1989, it (hostility between the union and the district administration) wasn’t there.”

Wyrosdick couldn’t be contacted on Wednesday for the online version of this article.

Carol Boston, the District 3 board member who narrowly defeated her union-backed challenger, Kenny Long, didn’t make any promises on the pay issue but told a reporter, “After a difficult campaign, I’ll be seeking healing and collaboration.”

Boston added, “We apparently need to communicate facts and information more effectively than we have been.”

But Peden, who was among those voting against larger teacher raises last year, said better communication won’t change the stark realities of the school district budget: “There’s only so much money to go around. I’m all for them (the election winners) getting in there and looking at the numbers. That’s what I did when I was elected eight years ago.”

Peden added, “But when you start digging into whether you can move some money from one column to another, you start finding out reasons why you can’t.”

Ueberschaer said another of her priorities is to seek a return to the district’s previous seven-period class schedule, which has been deemed too expensive by a committee that included teachers.

Peden responded, “If they (the new board members) can find the money for that, I support them.”

 

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