"We thought it was good. We thought it was the best offer we could get from the table," said Byron Teachers Association President Danielle Storey. But she said that the teachers all said, "No. They were not happy."
Storey said that although "the district received 8.03 (percent) in new money - and offered us 2.5 percent - that was all that was offered to negotiate."
In addition to giving the teachers a raise this year, Storey said that the district did offer to give the teachers another 3-percent raise next year, but only if the teachers agreed to not seek renegotiations in 2008.
As of press time Tuesday, Byron Union School District Superintendent Tom Myer could not be reached for comment.
"The (3-percent) salary increase offered (next year) by the district would have been eaten up by hefty out-of-pocket payments we'd be forced to make for our health care (beginning in 2008)," said Storey. "Our teachers are so concerned about health benefits they are willing to take a vote to authorize a strike - it's that serious!"
Another element of contention among BTA members is the amount of money the district holds in its reserve fund. Byron Teachers Association President Danielle Storey said that by law, the district is only required to maintain a 3-percent reserve.
Storey said BUSD teachers are upset that the school board has maintained a 5-percent reserve fund, 2 percent above the state-mandated amount, yet the teachers are being asked to gobble up next year's 3-percent raise in order to afford the expected increase in their healthcare premiums.
Storey said that each year, the district ends the year with an excess of funds ranging between five and six figures. But, she said, "He (Myer) says 'there is no money.'
"I've been here for 12 years," said Storey. "And we have never dipped into the reserve."
Storey said the bottom line is that "We (teachers) are not a priority to the superintendent."
Despite its small size, the Byron school district loses a number of teachers each year to neighboring school districts that offer better compensation and benefit packages.
"We work hard to raise student achievement, but our students suffer when we lose good teachers," said Storey.
A vote by the 92-member teachers association would authorize its executive board to call a strike if an acceptable settlement isn't reached.