Teachers, district shake hands

About eight months after beginning negotiations with the school district, San Francisco’s public school teachers finally have a contract for the current school year.

The school board unanimously approved a contract Tuesday night for 2007-08 that gives teachers a 3 percent raise starting in January and an unprecedented classroom budget of $225.

The teachers’ previous contract expired at the end of June.

In September, 82 percent of teachers in the union agreed to the contract.

“We think this is a good contract,” said Dennis Kelly, president of the United Educators of San Francisco. “We’re happy to move on to getting it printed and getting it in the hands of everybody.”

It was, however, a long journey. After declaring an impasse in May, the district and the teachers agreed to a salary increase but then deadlocked on when the raise should start. Threats of a strike loomed.

The final contract includes a 3 percent salary bump starting in January, a $225 budget to compensate teachers for out-of-pocket classroom expenses and an increase in dependent health benefits.

Paraprofessionals in the district will also receive one professional development day in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

The pay increases will cost the district just under $10 million — $3.3 million for each 1 percent raise in salary, according to the district, which also picks up already established “step” increases for teachers with added experience.

District officials have indicated a plan to pursue a parcel tax measure on a 2008 ballot that would help recruit and retain qualified teachers.

School board members and teachers have yet to indicate how much the parcel tax would be, how long it would run or what specifically it would fund.

“Those are the things we’ll engage the public in,” Board of Education President Mark Sanchez said.

arocha@examiner.com

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