ENCINITAS — As tensions continue to run high and with two separate elections expected later this year within the San Dieguito Union High School District, Trustee Michael Allman shared his thoughts with The Coast News about meeting the union at the bargaining table and moving forward.
Allman is currently fighting a recall effort from the San Dieguito Faculty Association, but in comments shared with The Coast News from a private Facebook group, Allman says he is prepared to move on.
“I am ready to move forward and let the past be the past,” Allman wrote in the post. “Sure the union was obstructionist and did everything in their power to prevent our schools from reopening. Shame on them. But we have beaten this pandemic. Schools will open full-time in the fall. It’s time to get back to the important business of improving the educational experience of our kids.”
There are a number of priorities Allman told The Coast News which will be on the list for him moving forward past the COVID-19 pandemic when students return to full-time and in-person instruction in the fall.
Among them are improving the ratio of students to counselors, building an aquatic center, making the field at Earl Warren Middle School more community-oriented and making improvements to the district curriculum.
Despite his current fight against the union-backed recall effort, Allman expresses hope that with the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic behind them, that healing can begin soon between the two sides.
“If we had the one big dispute with the pandemic, that’s behind us now. COVID’s over for all intents and purposes,” Allman said. “Now if the state doesn’t cooperate and ends up forcing kids to wear masks I think we’re going to have a big problem but hopefully that gets sorted out. So let’s move on to all the good stuff we want to do.”
Positive COVID-19 cases in the county have slowly begun to rise — nowhere near the highs of January — and the county has not met its goal of fully vaccinated residents.
This month, the CDC issued guidance saying fully vaccinated students could safely learn in classrooms without masks. Children 12 and up are eligible for one of the COVID-19 vaccines in the state but individuals ages 12-19 make up just 8.7% of the vaccinated population in the county.
Moving forward, the teacher’s union and school board will soon have to come to the bargaining table for contract negotiations, while simultaneously the union works to recall Allman and investigates Trustee Maureen “Mo” Muir over her residency status.
When speaking on the potential topics he is interested in negotiations, Allman broached a clause in the teachers’ contracts related to their salaries.
“One of them is that by their contract they will be the highest-paid teachers in the county,” Allman said. “So if Poway increases their pay, for example, our district automatically gets one. I’ve never heard of that in a contract before. So I’m going to ask the attorney if that’s unusual, why it’s there and how many others have done it. And if the answer is that we don’t see it anywhere, I’m probably going to ask the question of why we even have it.”
While it is unclear how strong Allman will push the question, it is one clause that will likely be a priority for the SDFA in future negotiations with the school board.