Teachers in the Lucia Mar Unified School District will get a surprise in their paychecks this school year — a larger raise, six months earlier than expected.
The district and its teachers union reached a tentative agreement on Sept. 2 to give teachers a 4 percent pay raise retroactive to July 2015, in light of an unexpected increase in state funding that gave the district more room in its operating budget to compensate staff.
The district also agreed to increase its contribution for teacher and classified employees' health benefits from $8,671.90 to $10,000.
The Lucia Mar Board of Trustees approved the agreements at its meeting Tuesday night.
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"Employee compensation continues to be a priority to the district and the board," Superintendent Raynee Daley wrote in an email to The Tribune on Wednesday. "The positive state budget impacted the revenues for Lucia Mar in an unexpected positive manner and our Board of Trustees took this as an opportunity to improve teacher compensation by increasing the health benefits cap and salaries. Lucia Mar desires to recruit and retain the most talented and dedicated staff for the good of our students."
In June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the 2015-16 state budget that includes $50.5 billion for K-12 education — roughly $5.1 billion more than the year before. The unexpected increase gave the Lucia Mar Unified School District more room in its operating budget to compensate staff.
This comes after the district only narrowly avoided a teachers strike in April, when negotiations stalled for eight months over teacher compensation.
The stalemate ended when the union and the district agreed upon a 6 percent raise over two years. The first three percent was retroactive to April 1, but the remaining three percent was not scheduled to go into effect until January 2016.
Then-superintendent Jim Hogeboom said the six percent raise, spread over two years, was the most the district could afford. Though it was eventually ratified by the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association, union president Donna Kandel said the union's 585 members were not fully satisfied with the deal.
"Our membership clearly understood that while being a small step forward, this settlement fell short of closing the salary gap and was less than the district could or should afford," Kandel said in a previous Tribune report. Kandel did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
The acceleration and addition will cost the district an expected $2.03 million for the 2015-16 school year, and then $1.37 million in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.