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Teachers To Rally At East Sj School Board Meeting Over Class Overcrowding, Expired Contract

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Members of a teachers union intend to hold a rally at the East Side Union High School District Board of Trustees meeting in San Jose this evening to demand smaller class sizes and a new labor contract, according to the union's president.

The East Side Teachers Association, which includes teachers, school counselors, social workers and psychologists, has been working without a new contract since Aug. 31 is concerned with the continued overcrowding of more than 700 classes this school year, union president Marisa Hanson said.

The classes contain as many as four to five extra students each and as a result the district has changed the schedules of about 9,000 students over a two-week period this year, Hanson said.

The union's contract with the district, which is still in force, requires the district to make scheduling changes within 18 days. Because it did not do this the union must seek to take administrators to arbitration, Hanson said.

Overcrowding and transfers cause problems for students and teachers, who lose their relationships with transferred students, have to teach new students what they may have missed in their class and then figure out grades along with their work from different classes, she said.

"You have a kid for a couple of weeks and then they go to a new class," Hanson said.

The district "did a poor job" at the start of the school year estimating which East Side Union High schools would have overflows of students, as some schools had 50 to 60 fewer pupils than planned and some had about 100 more, Hanson said.

The union agreed in its contract with the district to allow the higher classroom sizes for six years, which saved the district $7 million a year in fewer teacher hires, but now there are more than 700 classes with 33 to 37 students, she said.

At Independence High School, for example, the district projected 3,062 students this fall, but 3,137 ended up enrolling, prompting 1,078 schedule changes, she said.

The union also wants to discuss salary increases, after members received a bump of 1.95 percent last year following 2.7 percent decreases from 2010 to 2013 from losing five paid days per school year due to furloughs, she said.

Chris Funk, the district's superintendent, and J. Manuel Herrera, president of the board of trustees, could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

The meeting of the five-member board today is at 5 p.m. in the boardroom at 830 N. Capitol Ave. in San Jose.
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