The San Ramon Valley school district and its teachers union have signed a tentative agreement that would seem to signal the end of 2015-16 contract negotiations that at times prompted dozens of local teachers to crowd school board meetings demanding higher wages.
The deal includes a 5.07% salary increase for union members, a one-time payment to the employees worth 4% of their annual salary and an agreement to allow an average class size of 25 students for transitional kindergarten through third grade, among other provisions.
The tentative agreement, which still awaits school board approval and San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA) ratification, was announced to all district staff in a joint email Friday morning by superintendent Mary Shelton and SRVEA president Ann Katzburg.
"We are extremely grateful to the members of the SRVEA bargaining team -- led by Darren Day -- and the District bargaining team -- led by Keith Rogenski -- for their dedication and commitment to negotiating a settlement which ensures that we continue to attract and retain outstanding certificated staff here," the two leaders said in their email.
Union members could cast votes on ratification later this week or early next week, Katzburg said in a follow-up interview. District staff expects to send the agreement to the school board for consideration in early March, district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich said Monday morning.
The turnout reached a peak for the Jan. 26 meeting, with almost 300 teachers gathering at a rally before the meeting and about 180 in attendance during the meeting, Katzburg said, adding that she was "pleased that our members were so unified and participatory in this process."
The two sides appeared split on the issue of pay raises the past couple months, with SRVEA asking for a 6% salary increase, plus a 4% bonus, while the district bargaining team countered with an offer of a 4% salary raise and 2% one-time payment, plus other incentives.
But negotiators reached a middle ground last week, agreeing to a 5.07% permanent salary increase retroactive to July 1. The pay bump consists of a 5% raise and 0.07% district contribution to the SRVEA Retirees Benefits Trust.
The tentative agreement also includes a one-time bonus worth 4% of the employee's annual salary as of Nov. 30, 0.59% district-paid health and welfare and cash back increases, 1.61% increase in statutory retirement costs, 1.03% in step-and-column (longevity and expertise) increase and 0.21% ongoing raise for extra services pay for coaches and other similar positions.
The deal also includes a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to permit district transitional kindergarten through third-grade classes to have an average class size of 25 students through the 2017-18 school year.
Katzburg said she was confident the district "would make every concerted effort to reduce the class size" but absent an agreement with the union, the district could lose out on state funding if those class sizes aren't down to 24 students across the board -- a difficult task in light of ongoing growth in the Valley, she added.
The district and union also struck MOUs regarding initial staffing levels for the under-construction Bella Vista Elementary School in the Dougherty Valley and on the 2016-17 instructional calendars for Venture Independent Study School and the district's San Ramon Infant and Toddler Early Start (SITES) program for young special-needs children.
In addition to teachers, SRVEA also represents district counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and speech pathologists.
Two other unions represent the district's classified workers, and agreements with those employee groups have not been announced. District officials have acknowledged that it is district practice to offer salary increases to all employees across the board.