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Sweetwater Teachers Agree To Contract That Reduces School Year By 3 Weeks

The Sweetwater Union High School District and its teachers have reached a tentative contract agreement that could reduce the school year by nearly three weeks.

The deal, announced late Thursday, will save as much as $16 million for the district, which is trying to close a $27 million gap in the budget for the upcoming school year.

Teachers would take three furlough days under the contract, which still needs school board and teacher rank-and-file approval to take effect. If tax increases proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown fail in the November election, the teachers would take an additional 11 days off.

District spokeswoman Graciela Sevilla said that of the total of 14 missed work days for teachers, 13 would be instructional days in which students would not come to class.

"We are happy and pleased that we could come together with the teachers as a team to balance the budget and continue to serve our students,'' said school board President Pearl Quinones. "Now it's up to the voters and the state legislators to restore funding for education.''

The agreement maintains the current ratio of students and teachers at 31-to-1.

Roberto Rodriguez, head of the teacher's negotiating team, said they would work to get the governor's tax proposals passed. If they are approved, the district and teachers agreed to a formula to restore the 11 furlough days.

The district, which has been shaken in the past year by corruption investigations, serves 41,000 students in grades 7-12 at middle and high schools in Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City and the southern part of the city of San Diego.