Capistrano teachers continue strike

Striking teachers in the Capistrano Unified School District will be back on the picket line today, as talks between the teachers and the district ended last night without a resolution, a union spokesman said.

Talks are set to resume at 11 a.m., but the teachers plan to continue their strike until a resolution is reached, said Bill Guy of the California Teachers Association.

The teachers want a commitment from the school board that a 10.1 percent pay cut imposed by the board will be temporary.

About 90 percent of the district's 2,200 teachers went on strike Thursday, picketing all 56 schools.

Classes were held with the help of about 600 substitute teachers, but district officials said less than half the 51,000 students showed up for classes on Thursday, and less than a third on Friday – and as low as 10 percent at the high schools in the second largest school district in the county.

The school board imposed pay cuts of 10.1 percent to help balance the district's budget.

The teachers want a commitment from the district to make the pay cuts temporary and to restore salaries, unpaid workdays and other benefits if "unforeseen funds" are received.

District officials have offered to discuss the demands, but say they can't legally agree to them up front.

Representatives from the school district and its teachers met for about 22 hours over the past four days, including about seven hours on Sunday.

"Talking is more positive than not talking," the union said in a statement.

"It's not an easy thing, but we're hoping it'll work out. Our members are determined," Guy said. But he promised that teachers "will be on the picket lines for the third day ... if we don't reach a settlement ..."

Representatives from the school board and school district were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier, school board President Anna Bryson said, "There's a certain amount of money available. These are difficult times. There is a definitely a financial tornado that has torn into our community. We are people of good will."

The pay cuts are projected to save the district about $19.9 million, but the district still needs to close a $34 million budget gap.

The strike is the first by educators in Orange County in a decade. Teachers in the Capistrano school district last struck in 1974.

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