employees in the La Canada Unified School District.
The program is offered to students in grades four through six who
attend one of the district's three elementary schools. Both unions
have threatened to file charges with the California Public Employment
Relations Board if their complaints were not addressed, but agreed to
not do so until after the school year ends.
The California School Employees Assn. challenged the program in a
letter to the district, read at its March 11 meeting. In the letter,
it stated the program used volunteers for what could be a union job.
The La Canada Teachers Assn. has since challenged the program for its
use of a noncredentialed instructor, who is not supervised by a
credentialed teacher, during school hours. It also takes issue with
the fact that the instructor is not a part of its bargaining unit. A
bargaining unit is the sole representative of all credentialed
teachers in the district.
District and league officials met March 24. Alternative
suggestions made at the meeting included setting up a format in which
the instructor was paid by the district, but the league reimbursed
the district. Making the program an after-school activity, which
would eliminate the grounds by which the unions have challenged it,
was also suggested.
Hilton said at Tuesday's meeting that the number of students
enrolled in the program could drastically drop if they had to stay
after school to participate. The program currently has 329 students.
Establishing a system where the league reimbursed the music
instructor was a violation of its bylaws, she said.
"They specifically state that all financial operations of a
project shall be controlled by the chapter, and that collaborating
agencies shall not have the authority to purchase, receive or to
direct the use of chapter funds in respect to the project," she said
Wednesday. "In other words, we cannot write a check to any
collaborative agency or organization."
More meetings with union, league and district officials are
planned. Board President Scott Tracy said the district was
considering other financial options in case a solution with the
league was not reached.
"We're very disappointed in the response," he said. "But having
said that, we're committed to having and maintaining the instrumental
music program in our schools."