The San Francisco Unified School District and the union representing its teachers have reached a tentative agreement in contract negotiations that have been ongoing since February.
In a joint statement released Saturday night, United Educators of San Francisco and the school district announced they have agreed on an overall 16 percent pay hike over the next three years for all educators represented by the union — though a portion of that compensation increase will be contingent on additional revenue that must first be approved by San Francisco voters.
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Toward the final of 24 bargaining sessions last month, the negotiations appeared to have hit a stalemate when the union announced it would vote to authorize a strike Wednesday.
“We are satisfied in that we feel confident that this is the best we could get through negotiation,” UESF Executive Vice President Susan Solomon told the San Francisco Examiner. “Are we satisfied that it’s enough to keep [teachers] in San Francisco? No.”
Solomon added that the union will continue “in our efforts to increase revenue that comes to the school district.”
The pay increase agreed on by both parties includes an 11 percent base salary schedule over three years beginning in the 2017-18 school year. Of that increase, 1 percent will be repurposed from the Quality Teachers and Education Acts, a special tax initiative approved by San Francisco voters in 2008 that provides funds to support educator salaries and schools.
The school district will be seeking additional revenue for teacher compensation with a ballot measure which, if passed and implemented, will provide for another 2 percent raise hike through a parcel tax add-on.
The school district also agreed to a one-time, 3 percent bonus for teachers, of which 2 percent would be paid out this school year. The rest of the bonus would be paid out in the 2018-19 school year and is dependent on the passage of the ballot measure.
UESF members will have access to several informational meetings before voting on ratifying the contract, Solomon said. The new contracts must also be approved by the Board of Education.
“We have a mutual goal of achieving this before winter break this year,” Solomon said about finalizing the contracts.
Teachers in San Francisco’s public schools have been working without contracts since they expired in June, and the raises would be retroactive to July 1, according to Solomon.
In the statement, SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews said the agreement was made as part of the district’s “ongoing commitment to attracting and retaining talented educators.”
“Our revenues are slowing and our expenses are growing so this represents a financial stretch for the school district but we can make this work as long as we’re willing to make other sacrifices and work together to find additional revenue,” Matthews said.
Apart from higher compensation, the union also negotiated retaining Advanced Placement prep periods for high school teachers and sabbaticals, both of which the school district had proposed to cut during earlier bargaining sessions in an effort to meet the salary demands.
“Initially [the school district was] offering 10 percent only if we eliminated sabbaticals and AP preps, and now it’s 11 percent and we held on thos those,” Solomon said.
The union also swayed the school district to alter language within the contracts that designates professional development for teachers as a priority and encourages more parent participation.
“We are very happy that we will now have several committees for safe and supportive schools and Special Ed that welcome parent participation — for us that’s extremely important,” Solomon said.
If the new contracts are approved, paraprofessionals would be eligible for an additional seven-hour work day set aside for professional development, even if they their work days amount to less than seven hours per day.
Language was also added to the contract to acknowledge and support the workloads of Special Education teachers.
“The amount of work expected for Special Ed educators and [high] turnover has become a big issue,” said Solomon. “For first time ever, our contract will acknowledge that workload for Special Ed teachers is something that the district must talk to us about.”