Sign of the times
Teachers held a rally on Thursday before the Cabrillo Unified School District board meeting. The teachers' union is at an impasse with the district as all involved consider a very unusual fall start to school. Photo courtesy Cynthia Menzel

Cabrillo Unified School District’s board delayed a decision to approve a plan on the reopening of schools in the fall due to a technical issue that pushed the Thursday meeting past midnight.

The meeting got off to a rocky start after only 101 participants were allowed into the Zoom meeting for the first hour, prompting the board to begin streaming it live on Youtube.

The technical issue was brought to the attention of board members as prospective attendees contacted participants and board members about access problems. According to CUSD leaders, the district’s Zoom account allows up to 500 participants. The board decided to continue taking public comments while CUSD Technology Director Randy Rudolph worked to fix the issue.

Meanwhile, dozens of public commenters, including parents and teachers, spoke in support of raises for teachers. Cabrillo Unified Teachers Association Co-president Sean Riordan gave a presentation calling on the district to agree to a 3 percent raise on 2019-20 salaries in line with increases in the cost of living.

Following another negotiating meeting on Wednesday in which no agreement was reached, district leaders and CUTA are at an impasse. Riordan said the two groups are headed into a mediation session Aug. 7. Teachers have rallied twice this month, including on Thursday evening, to draw attention to the issue and garner public support. Riordan said to expect more protests in the future.

“Be prepared to expect asymmetric, unannounced and loud protests until the contract is settled,” Riordan said.

After a lengthy budget discussion and a technology update, the board heard part of the presentation on the reopening of schools in the fall. Board members then voted to reconvene at 7 p.m. on July 23 for a second presentation and to take public comment, to have a full discussion and finally vote on the plan.

“We had many community members not able to log on tonight, many community members not able to make their voices heard,” teacher Caleb Hartman said in the final minutes of the meeting.

Part of the board’s decision to delay stemmed from concerns that changes to guidance from the state and county might come as early as today, altering the landscape of decision-making for the board. Board members agreed that adequate time to discuss the plan and hear public comment was necessary, and that any decision they might make Thursday night may be moot anyway.

“We’re not quick about anything, and this is not something to be quick about,” board member Lizet Cortes said.

At the height of the meeting, there were nearly 150 attendees each on Zoom and watching on Youtube Live. By the final agenda item, that number had dwindled by about half. Freya McCamant, who has served on the CUSD board for 10 years, said it was the most participants she had ever seen at a meeting.

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