Staff, students relieved contract dispute is over

After months of negotiation, the Stockton Teachers Association and Stockton Unified School District have come to a tentative agreement on a contract. Teachers will vote today whether to accept the agreement, but it is likely to pass, according to staff here.

“We’re very happy because we didn’t want to do a strike,” business teacher Ron Tankersley said.

Some issues decided in the contract include class size, teacher evaluation, wages and health benefits.

“Give a little, get a little,” he said. “That’s part of negotiation.” Satisfied with the results, teachers Susan Diohep and Deborah Berg agree that the settlement was fair.

Rosslyn Halekakis, P.E. teacher and an active member of the teachers association, passionately supports her fellow staff members and students.

“We stand up for what’s right for our students,” she said. “Stagg pride inside, you have to feel it.”
Safe from the threat of a strike, students won’t have to worry about teachers leaving class. “It’s good that they came to an agreement,” senior Andy Hoang said. “I heard that their rights were being abused.”
Hoang is also relieved that a strike has not taken place, because it could have affected graduation. He imagines how significant of an impact it would have been if his MESA advisor, Andrew Walter, would’ve left.

“I feel like all my hard work in MESA would be nothing.” Junior Giacomo Abdallah said that he would feel betrayed. “Teachers are supposed to be here for us, and they would be leaving for themselves.”

In the busy month of May, activities like Advanced Placement tests and graduation need teacher support.

Junior Selena Rivas, who has an AP Biology class, said that “teachers do deserve a raise.” Had teachers gone out to strike, she would feel “less confident in her schoolwork and stressed out.”

Halekakis explained that teachers were in need of three major changes to their contract. First, the district proposed for a “move at will” policy where teachers, for example, could be transferred to another school by force and without reason, which didn’t get passed.

Second, a hard cap on health insurance was proposed, meaning that teachers’ benefits could have become more costly. And finally, teachers will receive a 12.5 percent increase in wages, beginning next year. They also will receive back pay for raises last year and this year.

Teachers have not had a raise since 2008, and the cost of living has increased.

“We desperately needed it,” Tankersley said. “Every time milk and gas prices go up, we take a loss.”
More details on the tentative agreement between the district and STA are posted on the Teachers Association website at