After more than eight months of stalled negotiations, Santa Ana Unified School District and its more than 3,000 teachers have made considerable progress in labor talks in recent days, representatives from both sides said Tuesday.
Union and district officials held lengthy discussions throughout the weekend and Monday in an attempt to reach agreement on a new three-year contract for teachers, said Joe Krause, executive director of the Santa Ana Educators Assn.
Krause and district Supt. Al Mijares said the talks had produced "substantial" results on, among other issues, healthcare, unpaid leaves and teacher evaluations, but they refused to provide details of the negotiations. Both expressed hope that a tentative agreement could be reached by the end of the week.
"I am confident we will have some answers to end this nightmare by Friday," Krause said.
He added that he believed the settlement would allow the district to cover nearly half of a projected $29-million budget shortfall by shifting more healthcare costs to teachers and having them take more unpaid leaves.
The apparent breakthrough comes five weeks after the district unilaterally declared an impasse and asked the state to appoint a mediator. The mediator arrived Monday, but Krause and Mijares asked that she give the two sides more time to reach an agreement on their own.
Tom Harrison, president of the local union, informed about 200 teachers of the "fragile progress" Tuesday afternoon as they gathered for a rally to protest what they say is mismanagement of funds by district administrators.