Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Oakland teachers take the picket lines at schools for a second day in a strike that appears to have no end in sight as educators demand a pay increase, smaller class sizes and more support services for students.
Negotiations between the Oakland Education Association and the Oakland Unified School District were expected to continue Friday after teachers rejected a district proposal made earlier this week.
The district offered a seven percent pay raise over three years along with a retroactive 1.5 percent bonus. Teachers are calling for a 12 percent pay raise along with an end to school closures.
The district said it is facing financial limitations as well, needing to cut $22 million from its budget to make up a $30 million deficit, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"Everyone knows teachers need to make more money. We support all that. It's a matter of what can we do within our financial ability," district spokesman John Sasaki told KTVU.
Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown said the district's proposal does not address the high cost of living that is driving educators out of Oakland.
"I'm out here today because I love teaching," Chela Delgado, a high school humanities teacher at Coliseum College Prep Academy told the nonprofit magazine In These Times. "But teachers of color are being forced out of the district. They can go to literally any other school in the district and get paid thousands more than they can make in Oakland. We're losing teachers. It's connected to the housing crisis."
Teachers have complained that they spend more than half of their salary on housing, where a one-bedroom apartment in Oakland can cost a teacher about 60 percent of what they make. The district has a 24 percent vacancy rate among teachers.
The 3,000-member Oakland Education Association scheduled picket lines at schools from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The organization will hold a rally at DeFremery Recreation Center before turning to the picket lines.