Lucia Mar Unified School District trustees unanimously approved a tentative agreement giving teachers a 6 percent raise over two years on Tuesday, officially ending nearly nine months of tension between the union and the district.
"I just want to say thank you to all involved in this deal for putting your differences aside and knowing our students and employees are important," trustee Colleen Martin said at the school board meeting. "I hope (the teachers) know that you shouldn't think for a second that the value that is placed on your career is just what is placed on your paycheck — it's not. As teachers you get so many more opportunities and things to show value. You should be happy to be doing what you are doing."
The tentative agreement is for a 3 percent pay raise retroactive to April 1 and another 3 percent raise in January. The agreement is a compromise between the 2 percent raise the district had offered and the 10 percent raise the union proposed during the bargaining process.
Under the new contract, the district will face increased costs of approximately $324,788 in the current school year, $1.75 million in the 2015-16 school year and $2.2 million in the 2016-17 school year, the district says.
The contract also includes clauses on when principals can schedule professional development or staff meetings, defines transfers and reassignments, and evaluates teacher performance through the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress system, rather than the previous California Standard Tests system.
The union and district can re-open contract negotiations on salary, health benefits and one non-economic issue in January 2017 for the 2016-17 school year.
During much of the contract negotiations, the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association argued the district was underpaying its teachers, compared with neighboring school districts.
The average teacher salary in Lucia Mar was $61,613 in the 2013-14 school year, and $74,718 for the same year in the nearby Santa Maria-Bonita district, based on LMUSD prepared numbers. The San Luis Coastal Unified School District average was $67,320 in 2013, though that district also approved a 4 percent teachers raise in February, which further increased the gap.
With the new contract, the average Lucia Mar teacher will see their annual salary increase by about $637 for the current school year, $3,495 for the 2015-16 school year and $4,500 in the 2016-17 school year, based on district salary estimates provided at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Members of the Lucia Mar Unified teachers union ratified the contract on April 16, officially ending the chance of a strike, while also signaling substantial dissatisfaction with the district. Fifty-nine percent of the union members voted in favor of the agreement and 41 percent voted against, with 92 percent of membership voting.
"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, " union president Donna Kandel said in a statement following the ratification.