Teachers at Capistrano Unified stage work slowdown

The union that represents more than 2,000 San Juan Capistrano teachers ends a work slowdown today as mediators try to thaw a labor contract out of a months-long impasse.

The Capistrano Unified School District teachers union said it wanted to show the school district how much extra work teachers put in. So for one week, union leaders urged members to “work to the contract.” That meant no grading papers, tutoring students or returning parents’ calls on teachers’ personal time.

Capistrano Unified is negotiating a teachers’ contract as it faces a $34 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year. A school district spokeswoman said administrators proposed a 10 percent cut that could come from teacher salaries and benefits.

The teachers union accuses administrators of mismanagement, and of working against teachers’ interests. The district’s posted data on its Web site that argues its teachers receive some of the highest compensation in Orange County.

The standoff is the latest chapter in a school district known for its affluence and contentious politics. A former superintendent faces charges that he misappropriated public funds. The teachers’ union is backing the recall of two current board members.

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