LASD, teachers union reach tentative deal: No salary increase this school year, 2.5% next year

Los Altos School District teachers won’t receive any salary bump this school year under a tentative deal the district reached with its teachers union.

Although salaries would stay flat for the 2018-2019 school year, teachers would see a 2.5% increase next school year.

The agreement still needs final approval from both sides. District trustees plan to take a final vote on the agreement at their board meeting Monday.

A majority of union members also need to sign off on the deal. The votes should be tallied by the end of the week, union bargaining chairwoman Roberta Pine said. She plans to present the results at Monday’s board meeting.

“We certainly would have liked to have seen a retroactive raise for this year, but we also understand that there are many constraints on the budget right now,” Pine said.

The district also reached a tentative deal with the union representing classified employees, which includes support staff such as instructional aides and maintenance workers.

Under that deal, classified employees also wouldn’t get a salary increase this school year, but would receive a 2% raise next year.

Tight finances ahead

It is unusual for Los Altos teachers and support staff not to get a pay increase. Teachers have received a raise for at least the past six school years. They received a 2% increase for the 2017-2018 school year and 5% the year before that.

“It’s not typical,” Superintendent Jeffrey Baier said about the lack of a salary increase. “We have a very tight budget; we’re having to make some pretty significant cuts this year.”

Baier attributed the challenging financial outlook in part to declining enrollment. Next year the district is projecting 135 fewer students than attended this year.

In the 2014-2015 school year, the district peaked at 4,670 students. Next year, only 4,107 are projected.

Although no layoffs are planned, the district intends to eliminate 16 teaching positions. The reductions will be achieved through attrition, including teachers who retire or otherwise leave the district.

Five teachers who currently work at the district office helping to train other teachers will be reassigned to fill traditional classroom roles.

Baier said he was thankful the teacher’s union was willing to work with the district and agree to forgo a salary increase this year and instead lock one in for next year.

“We are certainly appreciative that our teachers partner with us, understanding the budgetary constraints that we have,” he said.

Pine also noted that some of the district’s newest teachers did see a salary increase this school year, which was negotiated ahead of time.

In addition to the salary negotiation, the district and teachers union also agreed to change the structure that determines how much the district contributes to cover health insurance premiums.

Teachers also will get more time next year to prepare and plan. Two staff meetings will be reallocated for teacher directed time.

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