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NORWALK – The labor dispute in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District escalated when a few parents braved the rain to show their support for teachers at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. About 200 people – mostly teachers, but also some parents, came out in the rain, carrying picket signs. Most of them read, “Teachers Deserve Respect.” The Teachers Association of Norwalk-La Mirada wants a 4 percent pay raise with 3.5 percent retroactive from September through July. The district has offered 3 percent. The two sides are scheduled to bargain again Friday. “Our teachers are absolutely amazing,” Lisa Haugen, a parent with three children at Gardenhill Elementary School in La Mirada, told the board. “I respect the work they do,” Haugen said. “They deserve the raise they’re asking for.” But in a presentation to the board – before parents and teachers spoke – district officials said that although the district is getting more money, declining enrollment means revenue is still reduced. For example, a 5.5 percent cost-of-living increase for fiscal 2005-06 is equivalent to a 3.5percent because the district has lost about 1,000 students in the last two years, Saul said. But teachers said the district can still afford a bigger pay raise. “Declining enrollment is a red herring,” said William Lambeth, a La Mirada High School teacher. Teachers also complained that the district was losing their best and brightest because other nearby districts pay better. “This year, we lost a 15-year veteran because he felt he couldn’t be paid competitively,” said Keri Kropke, a Dolland Elementary School teacher. “Do people standing in the rain deserve less money than other districts?” District officials said their offer was equivalent to a 5.4percent compensation package and would cost the district $6.53 million. Maureen Saul, assistant superintendent of business services, said the 3 percent pay raise would cost $3.6 million. In addition, existing health benefits will cost nearly $1 million in additional money because of price increases. The district also has proposed $200,000 more as a done-time contribution, Saul said. And the cost of teachers getting more money for additional education and years with the district will cost about $1.7 million. email@example.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!