I was very interested to learn of the Tracy Unified balanced budget (Tracy Press, July 6). My interest came from the knowledge they have not yet completed negotiations with the teachers. I hope that budget has included money for a significant raise for us. The TUSD spokesperson spoke of the hardship these last few years had placed on the district. Think of the hardship those years have placed on the individuals who work for TUSD. Every year our health care costs go up; the average increase has been $100 a month. The cost of premiums to the teacher for the lowest Kaiser plan is currently at $690 per month. It is scheduled to go up another $75 a month this coming year. This does not include the co-pays or the dental and vision care. The last raise we received disappeared into increased health care costs by the end of the second year. Prior to that raise our paychecks went down every year. The teachers of this district have never financially recovered from the recession. To compare — teachers in Stockton Unified have a lowest-cost health care plan that is free. If TUSD really wants to attract and retain teachers, they are going to have to decide that teachers are the solution, not the problem, and compensate us accordingly.

Colleen Keenan, seventh-grade teacher, Williams Middle School

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