VACAVILLE — The nonprofit Young Artists Conservatory of Music says it’s in a financial fight for its life and that founder Wanda Cook will defer her $28,000 salary because the Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association blocked children from attending music conservatory classes – an assertion the union disputes.
The nonprofit said it needs $5,700 immediately to continue operations in March and must raise another $14,300 through June.
The music conservatory said in a Thursday release that the teachers union action to block children from attending classes caused 150 children to discontinue before- and after-school music enrichment classes. That meant the loss of nearly $10,000 in monthly revenue to support the remaining 500 children in the nonprofit’s programs, the conservatory said.
Laurel Salerno-White, president of the Fairfield-Suisun teachers association, said the nonprofit’s description of the teachers unions blocking children from attending classes is inaccurate.
“We didn’t do that,” Salerno-White said.
The teachers association provided the music conservancy with opportunities to teach classes at times other than the workday for instructors in the school district. It’s not the fault of the teacher’s union if the nonprofit didn’t pursue that opportunity, Salerno-White said.
“We’re simply trying to maintain our own jobs,” she said, “and our own working conditions.”
Budget cuts for music instruction in the Fairfield-Suisun School District helped spur the nonprofit instruction. Cook has said union actions led to a prohibition on instruction during teacher prep times about 30 minutes before and after school.
Music Matters, one of the programs the nonprofit conservatory provides, has had to cancel some instruction and reorganize other classes, Cook said in January. Parents pay just under $7 an hour for the instruction by Music Matters.
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association sent a cease-and-desist order in September to the school district, contending the instruction violated the teachers union contract.
Salerno-White has said the union supports music instruction that all children’s families can afford.
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