San Ramon Valley teachers are set to receive a new raise and bonus this year after the school board Tuesday unanimously approved the tentative agreement reached by district negotiators and the teachers union.
The deal with the San Ramon Valley Education Association (SRVEA) includes a 5.07% salary increase for union members and a one-time payment to the employees worth 4% of their annual salary, plus other incentives that will cost just under $12.4 million this school year.
"With our settlement, San Ramon is recognizing the value of our educators and all educators who serve our students," SRVEA president Ann Katzburg told the school board Tuesday night.
Union members overwhelmingly supported the deal, with 98% of the vote in favor of ratification during the association's election, according to Katzburg.
No school board members commented on the SRVEA agreement before each voted to approve it during the regular meeting at the district's administrative complex in Danville.
About 15 people were in the audience for the approval vote Tuesday night, a contrast from the series of board meetings in December and January during which dozens of teachers packed the boardrooms wearing similar colors and pins and holding signs in a show of support for union negotiators.
Brendan Nelson, an English teacher at Danville's Monte Vista High School, thanked the board, SRVEA negotiators and the district bargaining team for their efforts "in achieving a fair settlement" -- which the two sides reached last month.
"Your hard work and collaboration ensured that we will continue to attract the best teachers at a time when a generation of teachers is retiring and we face a dire teacher shortage," said Nelson, the only teacher to speak on the agreement Tuesday.
"Our district has been and will continue to be a destination district where students receive a rigorous, first-class education. Your approval of the tentative agreement tonight recognizes the importance this goal," he added.
Katzburg acknowledged to the school board that this year marked a "challenging negotiation season."
"You have heard the challenges our educators face by working in a profession that hasn't any riches," she said. "We simply can't pay educators enough for their value. This settlement offer speaks volumes ... that the San Ramon Valley Unified School District does value our educators."
During the final months of bargaining talks, the two sides appeared split on the issue of teacher pay, with SRVEA asking for a 6% salary increase, plus a 4% bonus, and the district bargaining team countering with an offer of a 4% salary raise and 2% one-time payment, plus other incentives.
The negotiators reached a middle ground in early February, 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 features a memorandum of understanding that allows the district's transitional kindergarten through third-grade classes to have an average class size of 25 students through the 2017-18 school year.
The permanent salary increase and related statutory benefits cost almost $6.7 million and the 4% one-time bonuses cost about $5.3 million this year. All incentives of the deal come with a $12,362,576 price-tag, according to district officials.
In addition to teachers, SRVEA also represents district counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and speech pathologists.
The salary increases and bonuses, if applied across the board to all district employees as is district practice, would cost approximately $17.3 million this year, according to Scott Anderson, the district's chief business officer. That would bring overall 2015-16 budget expenditures to approximately $315.7 million.
The district is starting contract negotiations with its two classified employee unions.
"We are looking forward to going to the table, and I am confident -- with the hard work of our team and the district -- we will reach tentative agreement," Tami Castelluccio, president of the local California School Employees Association (CSEA) chapter, told the school board Tuesday night.
In other business during their meeting, board members approved the initial proposals from the district negotiators and CSEA representatives for topics to broach during bargaining talks this year.
The two sides' lists differed -- district reps want negotiations to focus on salaries, salary schedules and the CSEA (Unit II) Retirees Benefits Trust while the union wants to discuss those three topics, plus employee benefits and organizational security.
CSEA Chapter 65 Unit II represents clerical, technical, child nutrition and other classified workers in the district, and CSEA Chapter 65 Unit III represents paraprofessionals.
Last month, the school board signed off on the joint bargaining-topic list between the district and its other classified union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, which represents maintenance, operations, transportation and other service workers.
Union negotiators and the district bargaining team agreed to discuss salary and allowances, bus drivers, and the SRVUSD retired employee benefit plan and trust for members of SEIU.