Parents join kids in Tenaya protest

May 16, 2002 11:00 pm

By ERIC BURKETT

Tempers ran high at Tenaya School Thursday morning as eighth-graders protested the possible cancellation of several end-of-year events because of provisions in their teachers' new contract. The district's superintendent, however, insists the events were never in danger.

Teachers, represented by the California Teachers Association, had recently negotiated a long awaited pay rise and benefits increase with the district, but have been unhappy because the district had not met their full demands.

Although a verbal agreement was reached earlier this week, teachers announced they would only work according to their contract — from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Typically, teachers work many additional hours beyond their paid work day, grading assignments or chaperoning after school events.

Teachers "reluctantly accepted" the district's offer of a 2 percent pay increase along with a 4 percent increase in their benefits, said Joanne Beaudreau, a fifth-grade teacher and spokeswoman for the teachers association at Tenaya.

They are still hoping for an extra half percent increase in their pay, which would bring the total pay rise to 2.5 percent.

"That's all it would have been," said Beaudreau Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, the eighth-graders heard that many of their extracurricular activities, including two field trips, were to be canceled because teachers would not be available to supervise the trips.

Most notably, students were told their graduation ceremony would be moved from an evening event to one held during the day.

That prompted their demonstration Thursday morning, after several got together Wednesday evening, calling classmates and making signs.

"We know we don't have money, but that's not our fault," said Tenaya eighth-grader Courtney Berthelson, after the demonstration. "It shouldn't be taken out on us. That doesn't mean you can take the most important things from us."