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San Diego Unified, Teachers Announce Tentative Agreement

John Lee Evans, president of the SDUSD School Board, talks to KPBS about the tentative agreement with the teachers union.

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San Diego Unified and the teachers union have reached an agreement to forestall most planned layoffs.

— Leaders of San Diego city schools and the district's teachers union announced Tuesday they reached a tentative agreement that will prevent more than 1,480 layoffs of teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians, according to an email from the San Diego Unified School District.

More than 1,530 educators received final layoff notices last month. Those layoffs would go into effect June 30.

The agreement would extend the district's five furlough days for two more years, according to the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) website and defer a 7 percent pay increase for teachers that was scheduled to be implemented in three stages over the next year. The deferral will last until state funding is increased for the district. The raises have already been deferred two years under the union's curent contract. They were negotiated with the goal of bringing San Diego Unified teachers' salaries more inline with those in the county's other school districts.

Union President Bill Freeman said Tuesday night that the SDEA's governing board has already voted to recommend the agreements adoption by members. He expects member voting to take place next week.

Recalled staff will keep district class sizes low. Classes were set to grow from 24 to 31 students in kindergarten through third grade next fall.

If the agreement is approved the district will also offer a one-time $25,000 bonus to the first 300 teachers retiring this year and next. It would also create a healthcare trust fund, which would guarantee health benefits for laid off teachers in future years.

Board of education trustees began calling on union leaders to discuss cost-saving concessions in December 2011. It wasn't until June 8 that the union announced it would sit down for "limited" bargaining.

Board President John Lee Evans said this agreement heralds a more cooperative era for city schools.

“I think one of the things that has come out of this also is a new spirit of collaboration. Again, setting aside our differences and working together. We want to be more transparent, we’re going to sit down together regularly and let both sides look at the facts and see what can be done as we deal with these problems.”

The work the two parties have to do together has only just begun, Freeman said.

“Our job now is to get out and educate the parents, the community members of the importance of passing the governor’s initiative. Because we cannot continue to go through this," he said. "We cannot continue to go through this. Our kids are suffering. Our educators are suffering.”

If the governor’s November tax initiative does not pass the district could have as many as 14 furlough days next year under the negotiated agreement. Without more state funding both Evans and Freeman said the district could be forced to pink slip teachers again next year.


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