Update on Successor Contract Negotiations with the
West Sonoma County Teachers Association
Date: January 25, 2021
The district has recently received numerous inquiries and questions from within the district community regarding the status of current negotiations with our teachers’ union. Given the breadth and scope of those questions and in the interest of making sure that information is thoughtfully and consistently accessible to everyone, we are posting this update on our website.
Our current contract with our valued teachers is set to expire on June 30, 2021. Consistent with the procedures set forth in that agreement, the district and the teachers’ union presented their initial proposals for negotiations (list of open articles for consideration) at the board meeting held on November 18, 2020. Board Meeting Agenda with proposals
Since that date, district and union negotiators have met and exchanged proposals four times (December 8, 2020, December 10, 2020, January 13, 2021 and January 27, 2021) with the next bargaining session scheduled for February 24, 2021 due to school holidays. The following is a summary of those proposals and where negotiations currently stand.
The union’s request for salary increases remains unresolved.
Over half of our teachers are currently averaging approximately $84,500 per year in annual salary. The average teacher health and welfare benefits package represents an additional $19,154 to total teacher compensation.
The union has proposed 2 options in terms of general salary increase.
The first option requested includes a general salary increase for both of the next two school years. Specifically, they have proposed a 4.0% increase for the 2021-2022 school year and another 4.0% increase for the 2022-2023 school year, with each of the annual increases to be implemented in two phases (i.e. 2.0% effective July 1 and 2.0% effective January 1).
The district estimates that the ongoing cost of the union’s first requested general salary schedule increase option to be approximately $582,000 over the next two years. After those 2 years, the proposed salary increase would have an ongoing impact of $776,000.
The union also has proposed the option of a one year general salary schedule increase. This proposal includes a 3.5% increase in the 2021-2022 school year. The district estimates the increase of this requested change to be approximately $340,000 in ongoing costs.
As has been the topic of many town hall and board meetings, the district is continuing to experience a significant budget challenge due to the fact that our costs are outpacing our income/revenues. What this means is that absent adjustments to spending or additional revenues, the district is projected to spend more than it is anticipated to receive in all combined federal, state, and local revenue every year. And although we would like to be able to improve salaries, the district has proposed no general salary schedule increase for the 2021-2022 school year, with salaries to be reopened for negotiation for the 2022-2023 school year. That said, we will return to negotiations with hope that we can achieve a settlement.
In addition to the general salary schedule increases, the teachers’ union has made other compensation proposals that would result in further added costs to the district, including a restructuring of the schedule to eliminate existing waiting periods for salary increases (longevity).
To address the union’s interest in eliminating those waiting periods for increases on the salary schedule, the district has proposed a salary schedule restructure that eliminates some steps and does not represent significant increased cost. This proposal remains unresolved.
Additional changes to the salary article have also been exchanged, with the parties reaching tentative agreement on a number of those requests, including an increase to the teacher hourly contract rate from $30 to $40, as well as increases to certain stipends.
The parties have each presented proposals related to a number of other topics, including teaching hours, class sizes at Laguna HS (to reflect move from a 6 period day to a 4 period day) and independent study, updates to existing leave language to reflect changes in law, development of updated performance evaluation tools, retiree benefits for new employees, and a new three (3) year contract term, many of which do not represent additional costs to the district. Although a number of these topics remain unresolved, many tentative agreements have already been reached.
The parties are scheduled to meet again for what we hope to be productive negotiations on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. To that end, the district will endeavor to provide further updates as our negotiations progress.