Officials of the Beverly Hills Unified School District said this week that they intend to seek a contract settlement with teachers that includes no increase in salary or benefits for the 1986-87 school year.
Teachers, who had sought a 9% salary increase, said they were disappointed with the offer and hope it is only a starting point in negotiations.
Last year the district offered no increase after the teachers had asked for a 15% increase. They settled on a 5% raise for the 1985-86 school year, raising the average salary for Beverly Hills teachers to $38,300.
Supt. Leon Lessinger said at Tuesday's school board meeting that he hopes the latest round of talks with teachers will not result in the hostility that characterized the recently concluded negotiations on a two-year pact that barely avoided the district's first teachers' strike. Talks are scheduled to begin next month on the 1986-87 salaries and benefits portion of the contract that was left unsettled.
"It is the district's intention to pursue this year's negotiations in an atmosphere of cooperation and collegiality without rancor on the part of either side," Lessinger said. "The board also recognizes that given the realities of a severely limited revenue picture this must be a year for fine-tuning educational programs and not a year for major change or innovation."
Teachers, however, said the district's proposal could have the opposite effect.
"Coming in with a zero offer is insulting to the teachers. It is saying to the teachers that they are the ones who should pay for the educational program," said Jacques Bernier, the teachers' negotiator.
In July the 320-member Beverly Hills Education Assn., the union representing the teachers, called for the 9% salary increase. The union also proposed an increase of $1,600 in fringe benefits.
School officials argue that the district cannot afford any increase because it will have a $1.9 million shortfall by the end of the 1986-87 school year without a teacher increase. A 9% salary increase would increase the shortfall by $1.2 million, they said.
When the teachers first made their proposal public, school administrators said they were distressed over the amount. However, in announcing their counteroffer, officials said that compared to last year the sides were not that far apart.
In addition to the salary and benefits proposal, district administrators also asked that classroom teaching time be maintained at the current 1,250 to 1,350 minutes, or about 20 hours, a week.
Another issue to be negotiated is a procedure to evaluate teacher performance. The administrators said they would wait until they receive the recommendations from a joint teacher-administrator committee before agreeing to any procedures.