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S.D. Teachers Take Furloughs In Exchange for Significant Concessions

— The San Diego Unified School Board unanimously voted to approve a new labor contract with teachers today. The deal includes five furlough days next year but protects support staff and maintains class sizes.

The teachers contract is two years in the making. Sticking points included whether teachers should take a hefty pay cut or furlough days to help the district balance its budget.

In the end, teachers agreed to take five furlough days in each of the next two years. In exchange, the district agreed to cap class sizes and protect nursing and counseling positions.

Union president Camille Zombro says that's important because campuses have de-funded those positions in favor of buying new school supplies and equipment.

“We have a lot of teachers who are struggling to meet the emotional and medical needs of our students and the staffing ratios are still not enough,” Zombro said. “At least we know now there is a minimal amount of support critical for the learning environment of our students.”

Teachers will also get a 7 percent pay raise in the third year of their contract. The furloughs save the district roughly $15 million. It translates into about a 3 percent pay cut for teachers over the next two years.

Teachers union leaders and district officials will now determine how to structure the next school year factoring in the five fewer school days.

The San Diego Unified School District is trying to fill an $80 million budget hole. School officials say they are still not ruling out sending layoff notices. Public school districts in California have to alert teachers of possible layoffs by March 15.

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