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San Diego Unified District, Teachers Union Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

The San Diego Unified School District and the union representing its teachers Thursday unveiled a tentative three-year contract that would decrease class sizes, increase teacher preparation time, place additional staff at high-need campuses and add more counselors and special-education support.

The pact, which must be ratified by the San Diego Education Association membership and the school board, also would establish a collaborative process to develop a professional growth-focused evaluation system, according to district officials.

The tentative agreement includes:

— a wage increase of 1 percent, retroactive to July 2014, a 4 percent increase effective July 1 and a reopener for the third year of the contract after the 2016-17 state budget is approved;

— fully funded health benefits;

— lower class sizes — 24-to-1 in transitional kindergarten through third-grade classes with a 22-to-1 allocation in high-needs schools, and 35-to- 1 in grades 4 to 6 by the 2016-17 school year;

— an additional full-time certified staff member for schools that have high percentages of students who are English-language learners, foster youth or living in poverty, ensuring that those with the greatest disadvantages have additional resources;

— additional counselors and special education support at high-needs schools;

— increased preparation time for elementary educators;

— a thorough study of the special-education program, its delivery of services and the utilization of special-education staff, conducted by a mutually agreed-upon third party, to include input from a balance of stakeholder groups;

— establishment of a joint committee to research existing evaluation models and develop an evaluation process focused on professional growth;

— a fully funded Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment intern program during the term of the agreement; and

— a retirement incentive for eligible educators who retire at the end of this year.

The three-year tentative agreement comes as California's budget is beginning to improve, though funding for education remains below 2007-08 levels, officials said.

"I want to express our gratitude to our educators for their dedication to our students and for the sacrifices they made in past years that allowed us to balance our budget while staying focused and committed to our educational mission during multiple years of severe budget cuts in California," district Superintendent Cindy Marten said.

The proposed agreement "allows us to recognize and honor our educators," said Marne Foster, president of the Board of Education.

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