BETA Negotiates Higher Pay for BCSD Teachers

March 7, 2023 /

Educators showed up in red to support Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association (BETA) during February’s Bakersfield City School District’s (BCSD) Board Meeting. Although flyers circulated information about the protest, it was canceled due to a vote earlier that day regarding the proposed wage increase.

A tentative agreement was reached between BCSD and BETA’s Bargaining team for an 8.5 percent raise increase versus the 9 percent the union was asking for, and originally it was set at 12 percent to meet increasing costs of living. The BETA union started negotiating back in October 2022 for raises, so their wages reflected their worth. Compared to other districts in the region like Kern High and Tulare, BCSD falls short by thousands of dollars in potential wages for max salary offers to teachers. According to BETA, BCSD falls under the state average for compensation by $20,000.

“Negotiation is a process and both sides sometimes leave the table a little unhappy, but I think this is a good deal for teachers in this district,” stated Shannon Barnes, Kindergarten teacher at Doctor Douglas K Fletcher Elementary and BETA’s Bargaining team Vice President. “There’s not enough subs, all the other districts want subs. We have support staff, but they also have their own jobs to do. It’s an ongoing issue, and it’s something that we’re going to work towards a resolution because we want people to be compensated for extra work.”

Barnes stated that parents who want to help can volunteer with school site councils and even help dictate where funding is spent. School Booster Clubs are a great space to see directly how student life is on campus. Barnes mentioned that those who can’t attend BCSD Board Meetings could stay current by utilizing the live stream that uploads onto Youtube.

“I emailed my concerns last month on the 22nd to the board and Mrs. Tafoya emailed me back and said ‘A response from the district would be forthcoming,’ I wanted to let the board know I have heard nothing back,” said Barnes during her turn to speak in front of the BCSD Board. “I simply want to save for my retirement.”

Diana Valdez, a teacher at Eissler Elementary for over thirty years and BETA representative for two years. Being a BETA representative for your school is volunteer work and Valdez commits herself to it plus coaching track for her students.

“Being a BETA Rep has opened my eyes to teachers and all their different needs. I’m not one to complain, but I see how there are a lot of teachers that are not happy with their jobs and the way things are going. We have a lot of training, and it’s overwhelming,” Valdez explained.

Valdez continued to state that the amount of work and services expected to come from teachers does not reflect the compensation. Standardized testing, bad administration, an overload of pieces of training year-round, and overcrowded classrooms have been overwhelming school staff.

“Our pay is less than other districts, and teachers get frustrated and they want to leave the district. We’ve had a lot of teachers leave to go to higher-paying districts… It’s sad to see a lot of sad teachers,” said Valdez.

Thanks to the Bargaining Team, Tom Tarrer, Kari Florez, John Peterson, Shannon Barnes, Brad Barnes, and Cassandra Hobbs, for efforts to collaborate with BCSD and come to a resolution. As of March 2nd, the vote to increase wages by 8.5 percent passed, and the new contract was ratified for July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2025.

Now more than ever public schools need qualified and dedicated teachers, and benefits include an opportunity to join BETA.

“You can start to agitate for change,” Barnes encouraged.