District, teachers union reach tentative agreement

By Rachel KANE

Glendale Unified School District officials and Glendale Teachers Association representatives reached a tentative agreement Tuesday on contract negotiations regarding the 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 school years.
The agreement comes on the heels of the release of an independent fact-finding panel’s advisory report, released to the district and the teachers association on Aug. 17 after months of ongoing negotiations.
Since then, district and teachers association representatives have been working toward Tuesday’s agreement, which Glendale Teachers Assoc. President Tami Carlson said meets both the district and the teachers’ needs.
“I’m very, very pleased,” said Carlson. “We have a new superintendent and a new assistant superintendent of Human Resources and I’ve just noticed over the past month that the working relationship between the association and the district has improved dramatically.”
Despite the district losing state and federal funds this year, the teachers association and the district officials were able to come to an agreement on an 8% annual increase in the teachers’ salary caps.
This is more good news for laid off teachers who learned last week they would be returning to classrooms today to begin setting up and taking staff meetings for the start of the school year, said Dave Samuelson, Asst. Supt. of Human Resources.
Because of retirements, resignations and promotions throughout the district about half of the returning teachers will be back at their old schools, teaching in the same grade they were before the layoff, said Samuelson.
But the choice to be returned to their old classrooms was the teachers, as the district gave all returning staff the option of being placed back in the grade and at the school they came from.
“Even though it’s been very disruptive, the end result is a positive result,” said Samuelson. “We have a lot of people employed and we’re going to have the teachers in their classrooms on Monday morning.”
Both groups also came to a compromise on health insurance co-pay, with only a percentage of teachers paying partially into their health insurance as opposed to the district’s previous offer, which would have all teachers in the district making co-payments on their health insurance.
“That was a big step in terms of these tough economic times,” Samuelson said. “They’re willing to give a concession to provide the district with financial stability over the next three years.”
Districts asking for and teachers unions accepting concessions in negotiations is something Samuelson said he has scarcely seen in his 25 years of administrative experience.
The district also asked for two furlough days from the teachers this coming school year that would be void if funds from HB 1586, federal legislation to fund educational jobs, were approved, Samuelson said.
“There seems to be a common goal of resolving differences and doing what is best for our students and all of our staff and the district,” Carlson said. “I think this agreement between us if further evidence of that and we hope to build on it.”
Teachers’ association members will vote on ratifying the agreement over the course of three days leading up to a 10 p.m. deadline on Sept. 9 to notify the district of their acceptance.
The district has already approved the terms of Tuesday’s tentative agreement, but due to the state’s inability to pass a budget, the terms of the agreement could change depending on how much money is afforded to education, said Samuelson.
“Economic signs are not that positive right now,” he said. “It’s a gamble on both sides.”
To view the full 6-page tentative agreement, visit www.gusd.net.