SFUSD, teachers agreement comes before the bell

San Francisco teachers started the new school year Monday with a promise of a 3 percent salary increase beginning in January and a classroom-supply budget.

Following a 17-hour negotiating session during the weekend, a tentative contract agreement was reached following months of heated talks that included threats of strike and an impasse declared in May. The current contract expired June 30.

“We’re getting a measly, in my view, 3 percent raise,” teacher and Board of Education President Mark Sanchez said. “But it’s all we can do.”

Many details of the agreement remained confidential pending a September approval vote by the full membership of the United Educators of San Francisco.

In addition to the 3 percent raise, teachers will receive a $225 classroom supply budget, increased health benefits and reduced class size for development classes.

To help fund the increase, which should cost the district just under an additional $10 million annually, every school budget will receive a 2 percent cut.

A parcel tax is the long-term solution favored by the union, which represents 5,700 teachers and aides, to offset salary increases. The tax could be placed on any of the 2008 ballots and seek about $20-$40 million.

School officials also hinted at directing some Proposition H funds toward teacher salaries. Proposition H requires that one-third of The City’s annual allocation be earmarked for free preschool programs, one-third for sports, arts, libraries and music in district schools and one-third for general use. This school year, the district was allocated $20 million in Proposition H funding.

Another cost-cutting method officials discussed was the possibility of combining smaller, underenrolled schools into larger schools. The district has lost about 800 students each of the last five school years, which has cost schools about $21 million.

First-day deal

After a marathon 17-hour weekend negotiation session, the San Francisco Unified School District and its teachers union agreed on a tentative contract just in time for the new school year. An outline of the contract:

» A 3 percent raise, effective January 2008

» A $225 classroom supply budget in 2007-08

» An additional $25 per month for dependent health care coverage

» Increased training for special-education teachers

» An additional paid professional-development day in 2007-08 and 2008-09 for paraprofessionals

» A cap of 12 students in each special-education class

» Expands district flexibility to fill positions during mid-school year

– Source: SFUSD

mrosenberg@examiner.com

arocha@examiner.com

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