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Yuba City Schools Half Full On Strike's First Day

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Teachers at Butte Vista Elementary School are among the estimated 620 teachers striking for higher wages in Yuba City.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The Yuba City Teachers Association says about 80 percent of the district's 700 teachers walked the picket lines this morning.

About 100 high school students then followed -after receiving at least two text messages calling on them to walk out at 11 o'clock. One message says,

"They will try to intimidate you. Just keep walking. They cannot touch you. The news is there to record the events. Just walk."

The source of the original message has not been identified.

According to Yuba City Teachers Association President Dina Luetgens, students organized the protest.

"We are not encouraging our students to walk out of the classroom. Teachers want students in the classroom where they feel safe and nurtured. We would not encourage our students to not go to school," she says.

The administration says the students had help from adults on the picket lines.

Some parents posted pictures of Sudoku puzzles, word searches, and crossword puzzles on social media as an attempt to show students were not receiving a quality education.

According to District Superintendent Nancy Aaberg, the pictures fail to show the entire 50-page packet that was given to each teacher.

"There's still the same assortment of content areas -english language arts, writing, financial literacy in the mathematics area, there's some science, and history/social science as well. So that full array is on each day," Aaberg says.

Some parents, like Anne Harris, brought their children to school, but then took them home.

"I'm leaving with my child. There's no teacher at his class. There's nobody there. We don't know what to do. No teacher, no note, no nothing.  I went to the cafeteria. I went to the office and I'm not leaving my child with a stranger," Harris says.

Other parents like Michelle Crawford say it's important for their children to be in school.

"I 100 percent support the teachers, absolutely without a doubt. But I don't feel this is my child's fight to fight, so that's why I brought them to school," Crawford says.

The teachers are demanding a 13 percent pay raise.

The average teacher in the district makes $67,000.

According to the California Department of Education, the average salary two years ago was about $8,000 less than the state average.

There have been no negotiations since August 24. Each side blames the other for the stalemate.

Aaberg says the district will call for a meeting between the two sides. She says about half of the district's 14,000 students were absent.



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