After a year of tense, often bitter negotiations, the 420 teachers in the Tustin Unified School District will vote Monday on a tentative agreement.
The proposed contract, reached between union and the school district representatives Wednesday night, calls for a 3.8% retroactive salary increase for the school year coming to a close next week, according to Sandy Banis, president of the Tustin Educators Assn.
"This would be only for (teaching) a longer day, longer year, and it doesn't include any cost-of-living increase," Banis said. She pointed out that the union, which had at one time asked for a 9% cost-of-living increase, decided to drop that issue for this school year and instead to negotiate for a cost-of-living increase next year.
The Tustin board did not offer a cost-of-living proposal this year, insisting there was no money to do so. Money for the teachers working longer daily hours and more days this year was provided by state legislation, which ordered the change.
Barbara Wilson, an administrator in the Tustin Unified School District, said teacher salaries range from a low of $16,344, for a teacher with a bachelor's degree and beginning-level experience, to $32,448, for a teacher with a master's degree and 16 years' experience.
Wilson said that of the 420 teachers in the district, only 15 make less than $20,000. She said the average salary for all teachers in the district is $29,300.
Banis said that her initial "good feelings" about the tentative agreement faded Thursday when she learned that the school administration was seeking to hire some teachers to work an extra day after school closes for the year next Thursday. "My question is, where did the administration come up with the money to pay for those extra days?" Banis asked.
"The administration, during all the negotiations, said it didn't have any more money to put on the table, but here they are offering $60 to each teacher that works an extra day, and if you multiply that by 420 teachers, that's a lot of money that we didn't know about."
Maurice A. Ross, superintendent of Tustin Unified, said in an interview that the district intended to hire only a small number of teachers for extra work--not all 420. "We thought this would be a positive thing," he said. "If it has become a point of disagreement, we will withdraw it."
Banis said the tentative agreement includes modification of existing contract language to be more favorable to the teachers. She said the offer, thus, could be something to build on for the next school year. "I definitely think we'll get a better contract for our teachers next year because I think the community is now aware that our teachers aren't being treated fairly," she said.
The vote on the tentative offer, she said, will take place late Monday afternoon at Foothill High School.