If an agreement can't be reached after negotiations on Wednesday, Covina-Valley teachers will begin their strike Thursday.
COVINA, Calif. (KABC) -- With signs and cowbells in hand, educators gathered for a rally Wednesday morning in front of Covina-Valley Unified School District headquarters.
It was their final show of solidarity before a strike that is scheduled to begin Thursday if a contract agreement can't be reached by then.
"Up until this point, the district has not been negotiating in good faith," said Amanda Mellars, an 8th grade science teacher at Sierra Vista Middle School. "We've tried to negotiate 15, 14 times and up until this point, they haven't been budging on their position."
The Covina Unified Education Association said for more than a year it's been trying to resolve major issues that include salary, health and welfare benefits, and changes to special-education teacher responsibilities.
"The district has talked a lot about salary. But the only problem with salary is that they are only offering salary if we take a hit to our healthcare benefits and if we accept an increased workload for our special education teachers, without a plan that's as thorough as we're looking for," said Mark Signaigo, organizing chair for the union.
A statement from the district read in part: "The district remains committed to finding a negotiated settlement and we are confident that by working together we can reach an agreement that ensures our teachers feel secure, our budget remains balanced, and our students are able to thrive."
With thousands of students in the district, teachers said they want and hope they can reach an agreement to prevent any more interruptions.
"We've got a lot of parents, teachers out here. We do not want to disrupt this community," said Adam Hampton, president of the union. "I never would have thought before that this would happen in Covina, but it is and we need to end it as soon as possible."
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