After months of negotiations, the Sequoia District Teachers Association (SDTA) and Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) have reached a tentative agreement for a new contract for teachers, counselors and other school specialists.
The decision was made during the last trading session on Friday, Jan. 28, according to Edith Salvatore, SDTA president and math teacher at Sequoia High School.
The contract unanimously approved by the SDTA Legislative Council on Tuesday will be voted on by union members this week. If ratified, it will be presented to the SUHSD Board of Directors for final approval at its next meeting on February 16.
The two-year contract includes a 2.5% salary increase for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, with an additional 2% increase from benefits savings, effective January 1, 2023.
The SDTA initially proposed a 4% increase for this year, with a series of subsequent discussions in the coming year.
Based on up-to-date salary grids, non-executive graduate staff, which includes many teachers, has a starting salary of $70,979, which will increase to $72,753 for the current year. An additional 2.5% increase on July 1, 2022, and a final 2% increase in January 2023 would bring SDTA member salaries roughly to those of the San Mateo Union School District (SMUHSD), according to Salvatore. The starting salary for certified SMUHSD employees is $75,883, including a 2.5% increase for this year.
Some teachers have expressed frustration that pay increases for non-executives have not matched executive salaries, Salvatore said. According to Salvatore, while compensation for SDTA members has increased by approximately 26% over the past five years, the amount spent on certified management personnel, such as site managers and other administrators, has increased by approximately 49%. during the same period.
Salaries for all certified staff, which includes union members as well as management, accounted for 40.4% of the district’s total expenditures for this year, according to budget data.
The district did not respond to requests for comment at the time of this article’s publication.
The tentative agreement outlines changes to “health care providers, professional development language, assessment adjustments, catastrophic leaves, pay for chief counselors, and case management time for school teachers.” specialized programs Satellite and Satellite Plus,” Salvatore wrote in an email. It also creates and maintains committees to continue to discuss health benefits, professional development, and job descriptions and workloads for counselors and other non-class staff.
With the spring term already underway, the contract is coming much later than usual, Salvatore said. Although the union’s initial proposal was presented at a meeting of the public school board in February 2021, active negotiations did not begin until October.
“Because we were in remote training and were negotiating the terms of all health and safety precautions for in-person return last spring, contract negotiations were postponed until the fall,” a- she declared. “And then we didn’t start until October because the district didn’t have an assistant superintendent of human resources.”
She added that it was “very frustrating to be so far into the year without a contract”.
Having been on the bargaining team for more than a decade, Salvatore said she understands bargaining is a long and complicated process for the district. Still, she said she sympathized with a sense of exhaustion among many union members.
“They have worked harder and achieved more in the past two years than ever asked of them,” she said, adding that many felt underappreciated for their work. “There’s a lot of, ‘we couldn’t do this without you guys. Thank you so much.’ And at some point, you wonder what the district’s priority is?”