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Forestville Teachers Union On Strike Two Days Before School Year Starts

FORESTVILLE (KPIX 5) -- 16 teachers in the Forestville Union School District are on strike after an agreement was not reached during six hours of negotiations Monday.

It was just after daybreak when the first teachers arrived for the strike. The tiny little old school district is 120 years old. This is the first time there's ever been a picket line walked at a school.

It is the first teachers strike in Sonoma County since 1980.

The Forestville Union School District has only one campus, 263 students and one teachers union.

6th grade teacher Ryan Strauss is the lead union negotiator.

"We are the Forestville Teachers Association. We have 16 members," said Strauss. "So far, we're making a lot of headway with our strike, but not a lot of headway with negotiations."

The teachers say they make about $60,000 a year. They want a 13 percent raise spread over three years. According to the teachers, the district is offering 12 and a half percent over three years.

Elementary school music teacher Gina Graziano is the Forestville Teachers Association president.

"We are on strike for a living wage, really. It is very expensive to live in Sonoma County," said Graziano.

The superintendent's office is inside the elementary school but wouldn't go on camera, saying there will be a statement sometime in the near future. Meanwhile, cars were stopping to offer water or other help to the striking teachers.

The community support keeps the spirits up for the small group of teachers. They paced back and forth, sweating  in the sun, taking breaks in the shade, eating popsicles and dancing.

"We will be out here as long as it takes to get a livable wage for our teachers," explained Graziano.

It was not clear when the two sides will meet again. School starts in two days.

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