Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/01/2011 06:12:59 PM PST

Colton teachers protested near Colton High School on Thursday, calling for district staff to return to the bargaining table as outside fact-finders prepare to investigate the bargaining process.

It is intended to recommend a potential solution to the contract dispute after analyzing the bargaining process, which teachers say the district did not conduct in good faith.

“They didn’t negotiate, they dictated,” said Mary Figuerora Garrison, a special education teacher and an organizer of the strike. “We’re willing to give up days (as furlough days), but our benefits are untouchable.”

Under the district’s proposal, certificated employees – mostly teachers, counselors and nurses – would have to pay out of their own pocket for any medical bills that went over $9,600 per year. An additional 2.08 percent salary cut could be made through four furlough days or a straight reduction.

District officials said they need to reduce teacher or they’ll run out of money by May. Even after eliminating all crossing guards and cutting several other programs, the district faces a $14 million deficit.

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