After nearly a year of negotiations, the San Francisco Unified School District and the teachers union have reached a tentative contract agreement that is considered one of the largest recent tentative contracts for an urban school district in California.
The contract includes a 12 percent pay raise over three years — 4 percent this year, 3 percent next year and 5 percent the following year — for the some 6,000 teachers, paraprofessionals and other educators represented by the United Educators of San Francisco, district and union officials said at a news conference Tuesday morning.
“This is a significant step,” UESF President Dennis Kelly said. “It restores a sense of peace and cooperation back into the school district between the teachers, paraprofessionals and administration.”
The current salary for an SFUSD teacher with 12 years of teaching experience is $69,135 for 184 work days. With this raise, a teacher with 12 years of experience — the average for the SFUSD — will make almost $78,000 annually in three years.
Superintendent Richard Carranza said the district took into account the increased cost of living for teachers, and there is language in the contract that allows it to be revisited in coming years if the SFUSD receives additional revenue.
“We do recognize that it's more expensive to live in San Francisco, but we're willing to invest because we know the return will be really engaged classrooms [and] really well taken care of students,” Carranza said.
Kelly said that the UESF achieved its three main goals the union spelled out when bargaining began in February: a double-digit salary increase, additional recognition for paraprofessionals and increased work time for elementary school teachers.
“In the two previous contracts, we had given up work time, we'd taken furlough days, we cut back bonuses … so this was the time to come back from that,” Kelly said.
Per the tentative agreement, paraprofessionals who have worked in the district at least eight years will also receive an additional step increment of 3 percent, bringing their three-year salary increase to 15 percent. Prep time for elementary school teachers within the work day will more than double, from 60 to 150 minutes per week.
The contract caps a monthslong negotiating process in which teachers and paraprofessionals, citing the skyrocketing cost of living in San Francisco, asked for a 21 percent pay raise over the next three years. The district in May countered with a proposed salary boost of 8 percent over three years, leading to an impasse.
Patrick Whelly, 28, a paraprofessional at Francisco Middle School, called the contract “a symbolic step” that will benefit teachers and paraprofessionals.
“I have friends that work for the district [as paraprofessionals] that are scraping to make ends meet,” Whelly said. The new contract “will positively impact people's lives that work for the district.”
Once the contract is voted on by UESF members and if approved by the Board of Education next month, teachers' and paraprofessionals' raises will be retroactive to July 1.