Thursday, April 30, 2015

NEWS RELEASE FROM THE SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: San Diego Unified and the San Diego Education Association Reach Tentative Agreement

News Release
April 30, 2015
Contact:  Ursula Kroemer, chief public information officer, 760-705-6919
For Immediate Release
San Diego Unified and the San Diego Education Association Reach Tentative Agreement
San Diego Unified and the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) have reached a tentative three-year agreement that decreases class sizes, increases teacher preparation time, places additional staff at high-need schools, and adds more counselors and special education support.  The agreement also establishes a collaborative process to develop a professional growth-focused evaluation system.
To become final, membership of the SDEA and the Board of Education must ratify the agreement.
“I want to express our gratitude to our educators for their dedication to our students and for the sacrifices they made in past years that allowed us to balance our budget while staying focused and committed to our educational mission during multiple years of severe budget cuts in California,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten.
“Our educators dedicate their lives in service to our students.  This investment in our students has resulted in many positive outcomes including four consecutive years of having the second-highest graduation rate among California’s large urban districts, and the lowest drop-out rate.  We need to invest in our teachers to improve upon these gains, and provide a world-class education for all students,” she added. 
The tentative agreement includes the following:
  • A wage increase of 1% retroactive to July 2014; 4% increase effective July 1, 2015, and a reopener for the third year of the contract after the 2016-17 state budget is approved
  • Fully funded health benefits
  • Lower class sizes – 24:1 average in transitional kindergarten through third grade classes with a 22:1 allocation in high-needs schools, and a 35 student maximum in grades 4-6 by the 2016-17 school year
  • An additional full time certificated staff member for schools that have high percentages of students who are English language learners, foster youth, or living in poverty, ensuring that students with the greatest disadvantages have additional resources
  • Additional counselors and special education support at high needs schools
  • Increased preparation time for elementary educators
  • A thorough study of the special education program, its delivery of services, and the utilization of special education staff, conducted by a mutually agreed-upon third party, to include input from a balance of stakeholder groups
  • The establishment of a joint committee to research existing evaluation models and develop an evaluation process focused on professional growth
  • Fully funded Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) intern program during the term of the agreement
  • A retirement incentive for eligible educators who retire at the end of this year
The three-year agreement comes as California’s budget is beginning to improve, although funding for education remains below 2007-2008 levels.  Education Week’s most recent annual “Quality Counts” report cites California as among the lowest in state per-pupil funding, ranking 46th out of 50.
“Today’s agreement allows us to recognize and honor our educators,” said Marne Foster, President of the Board of Education.  “Their contributions are significant and appreciated.”
Both Marten and Foster cited a continued sense of urgency in advocating for proper and equitable education funding from Sacramento.
“We will work side-by-side with our educators, our families, and other stakeholders in this ongoing dialogue,” said Marten.  “Our schools deserve nothing less.”
A vote by the SDEA membership to ratify the agreement will be held later in May.  The agreement is expected to go to the Board of Education for approval on May 26.
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