Tensions between the Beverly Hills Unified School District and the 300-member Beverly Hills Teachers' Assn. eased Tuesday when a fact-finder's report recommended a 6.3% pay raise for teachers and an extension of high school class periods from 40 to 50 minutes.
The recommendations were described by both sides as a compromise that would set the stage for the resumption of negotiations that have been stalled for months. The details of the report were released at Tuesday night's board meeting where more than 200 teachers held a silent candle-light vigil to encourage the district to return the bargaining table.
The report recommends that the district and association approve a three-year contract that would give teachers a 6.3% salary increase this year, equal to the average raise granted teachers in Los Angeles County. It also recommends that increases in the two remaining years of the contract be based on a percentage of the amount of money the district receives from the state.
The report also recommended that the amount of classroom instructional time be increased by 10 minutes. This position was favored by the district. It puts Beverly Hills more in line with the county average of 52 minutes.
The report recommended no changes in fringe benefits, leaves and class sizes. It recommended that parents be given a month after their children leave a class to submit a complaint on a teacher.
"It's an honest, well-thought-through, considered report and I hope it will be received on both sides that way," said Kenneth Eaves, association president. "We didn't get everything we wanted, but we could live with it."
"It's a compromise," said Walther Puffer, the district's assistant superintendent of personnel. "It does represent a compromise between the two positions and I think it provides a framework for continued negotiations."
The district asked for an independent fact finder last year after negotiations reached an impasse. The two sides agreed to appoint Philip Tamoush of Torrance as a neutral party to help sort out their differences. Tamoush held meetings in November and December and his recommendations are expected to form the basis for the next round of talks.
Puffer said that despite the report, the salary increase remains an area of disagreement. The school district's initial proposal did not contain one; the teachers asked for a 14% raise.
"There is still some concern about the 6.3% salary increase," he said. "The increase would cost the district an additional $1.2 million and we would not be able to balance our budget without making even deeper cuts than have already proposed."
School officials have estimated that the district faces a $3.7-million deficit in its $26-million budget in the 1986-87 school year. Supt. Leon Lessinger proposed a plan last week that would cut the district's staff by up to 90 positions, reducing the deficit by $2.4 million.
The teachers have argued that they should not have to bear the brunt of the deficit. They want the district to seek additional funding from the community as a means of avoiding cuts.
Both the district and teacher bargaining representatives said that the report would be studied and a date for the resumption of negotiations would be set soon. Eaves said there would be an "end to the war of words" between both sides.
Two weeks ago, association members voted 228 to 27 to give its representatives the authority to call a strike if the district imposed its own settlement on the teachers.
The school board responded by giving Lessinger emergency powers to hire substitute teachers should the association call a strike or work stoppage.