San Francisco teachers to get 12% pay hike in three years
SAN FRANCISCO — Besides turkey and pumpkin pies with families last Thanksgiving Day, San Francisco public school teachers had one more dish to savor — a tentative contract agreement between the city’s Unified School District (SFUSD) and the teachers’ union paving the way for a 12-percent pay raise over three years for teachers, paraprofessionals and other educators.
This financial settlement is one of the largest recent tentative contracts for any urban school district in the State the California, and a step towards helping teachers to live in San Francisco.
Newly reelected to SFUSD Board of Education for a third straight term, Filipino-American Hydra Mendoza was elated that a contract with the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) was settled.
“With an increase of 12 percent over three years for all the teachers, their salaries will go up from $50,000 to $56,000 annually. And all of the para professionals, the ones that work as assistants who usually work with children with special needs will also get the same increase,” Mendoza explained.
“We have been in negotiation for about 11 months now and so finally we were able to settle their contract so there won’t be a strike, the teachers will get a little more money every year. And we are really very happy about that,” she added.
SFUSD Superintendent Richard Carranza believes that there must be an investment in the people who are charged with teaching and supporting students to ensure that the latter get the education they need to be successful.
“We have ambitious and urgent goals for what we want every SFUSD graduate to be able to know and do,” explained Carranza. “While it is a financial stretch for the school district given that state funding is still not even back to 2007 funding levels, we have thoroughly analyzed the numbers and feel this is a fiscally responsible and fair agreement.”
In an interview, Mendoza disclosed that the last salary increase before today was a few years ago although the teachers had a regular one-percent step increase that automatically happens.
“The teachers did not have a raise since 2008 when the (economic) crash came and we had to cut everything,” Mendoza related. “We did not give any increase to our teachers who even took furlough days resulting to fewer days of work when they used to have 184 working days in a school year. This went on for several years before it was eventually restored. That is why we are happy that this time we were able to give them a decent salary raise.” She also stressed that the rate will be retroactive to July 1, 2014.
For his part, UESF President Dennis Kelly thanked the thousands of parents who supported them during the contract negotiations.
“With this positive development, I pledge to continue working on issues of affordability in San Francisco,” Kelly announced. “This contract is just the first step in our ongoing advocacy for stable schools that meet the needs of all students, rooted by teachers who live in the communities we serve.”
The tentative agreement also provides additional compensation for more than 70 percent of SFUSD’s current para workforce. Those who have worked at least eight years in the district will receive an additional step increment of three percent, bringing their three-year salary increase to 15 percent.
In addition to state revenues, the financial settlement is possible because of the support of San Francisco voters. The Quality Teacher and Education Act (QTEA), passed by voters in June 2008, will provide revenue to support 1.5 percent of the 12 percent raise to all UESF members. The intent of QTEA is to provide funds to support teacher salaries, professional development and resources for technology and innovation.
Other important changes to benefit the student as a result of the tentative contract include a significant increase in elementary teacher preparation time within the workday, which will go from 60 minutes per week to 150 minutes per week.
There will be additional hours for high school counselors to support students in meeting graduation requirements, graduating on time, successfully transitioning into college or career and the lowering class size goals for transitional kindergarten classrooms to 22 students per class..
The SFUSD Board of Education will vote on the agreement at an upcoming meeting while San Francisco teachers will have the opportunity to vote on it by mail, with ballots due by December 11, 2014
On the possibility that other cities would follow suit after the San Francisco teacher’s salary increase, Mendoza aired that other cities do that a lot more with policy, but not necessarily with salary because cities have different resources.
“We have a voter-approved money (source) that’s why our salary increase is the highest in the state. So that is a lot of money that we are giving to the teachers. No other district has given this much,” Mendoza emphasized as she also enumerated that other benefits teachers already have include medical, dental and other benefits.
While happy for their San Francisco counterparts, Filipino American teachers from other districts generally wished that they too would at least get some good news about their own wages.
“Here at Los Angeles Unified School District, those who agreed on 2 percent (salary) increase got their share already. But for those who are still fighting for a 10 percent increase, it is still a big question mark,” teacher Jane Jose divulged.
A southbay mentor Norrie Cruz related, “East Side Union High School District in San Jose right now has no contract. Currently we are observing no work beyond the 7.5 hours in school.”
“Why just San Francisco? We should all get a raise!” uttered Chrissy, a teacher from Jefferson Elementary School District.
“Hmmm, not fair,“ butted in co-teacher Melanie from Daly City.
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