As tensions escalate, union plans to rally outside CCISD board meeting today

By Rhiannon Meyers, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

April 28--CORPUS CHRISTI -- In a sign of escalating tensions between the teachers unions and CCISD, the American Federation of Teachers plans to rally outside Monday's school board meeting, a week after trustees voted against the reinstatement of tenure for teachers.

"This was prompted when they refused to even compromise on the contract issue, when they went from the strongest contract in Texas to not even be willing to compromise," said Ray McMurrey, Corpus Christi AFT president. "It just, once again, showed their willingness to do the very worst to employees as they could, to be as draconian as they could to employees."

Backed by three teacher's unions, educators last week called on the Corpus Christi Independent School District to reverse its 2011 decision to stop offering continuing contracts, the only teacher contracts without expiration dates.

Teachers argue that such contracts offer better job protection from angry parents, retaliatory administrators or test scores that threaten their job security. The district, when it stopped offering the contracts, said it did so because CCISD faced bigger legal hurdles when trying to fire or lay off a continuing contract teacher.

Four trustees -- Board President Carol Scott and Jane Bell, John Longoria and Dwayne Hargis -- struck down a motion to reinstate the contracts .

McMurrey characterized the move as the latest in a long list of "anti-employee" decisions, including switching from a fully funded health insurance plan to a self-funded health insurance plan years ago.

"This finally was the straw that broke the camel's back," McMurrey said.

Longoria disagreed with McMurrey's assessment. Longoria said that while McMurrey tries to tear CCISD down, he is trying to support and strengthen the district, noting that trustees consistently have given teacher raises and did not lay off teachers when the state chopped $5.4 billion from school finance, forcing districts statewide to cut educators.

"Those are the facts, and Ray has rhetoric and there's a day-and-night difference," Longoria said. "Ray can blow on his bullhorn all day long, but he does not have the facts to back it up."

McMurrey said teachers will gather at 5:30 p.m. outside the administration building, 801 Leopard St., and move inside during scheduled public comment slated at 6 p.m. in a show of dissatisfaction against the trustees who voted against continuing contracts.

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Twitter: @CallerRhiannon


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