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District, Teachers Reach Agreement
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The Oakdale Teachers Association and the Oakdale Joint Unified School District reached an agreement on a contract for teachers for the upcoming school year on April 15. They had reached a tentative agreement on March 30 and on April 14, the OTA held a general membership meeting to discuss the agreement, with the ratification vote taking place the following day.

“OTA members overwhelmingly voted to accept the contract language/salary reduction proposal for the 2010-2011 school year,” reported OTA President Linda Kraus.

The agreement called for a 2.5 percent reduction in teacher salaries. Kraus said that, on average, OTA’s members will lose approximately $1,770 per year with the reduction in pay.

“In addition, insurance costs have continued to increase, like everyone else’s, which compounds the loss,” she added.

OJUSD Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Marc Malone said that the 2.5 percent for the 2010-2011 school year will result in a savings of approximately $750,000 to the district because it is coming from salaries and stipends. Last year’s contract only called for salary reductions.

“The (aforementioned) $750,000 was approximately half of the $1.5 million we needed to cut for the upcoming year,” Malone said. “The $1.5 million is moving target due to the state imposing referrals on our apportionment.”

The new contract called also for the rescinding of the previous contract in which the OTA members took a 1.5 percent reduction, which, again on average was $1,063 per year.

Malone reported that the 1.5 percent from this past year was a savings of $439,000 to the district.

To clarify, this new contract doesn’t mean an overall 4 percent cut for the teachers, it will be 2.5 percent overall. The salary reduction is being taken through the reduction of five student contact days.

Kraus explained that even though the students will be in school five less days, the required state expectations do not change. Therefore, the staff must teach the same amount of material in five less days.

“This will require the pace of instruction to be increased, which can make a significant difference to student learning, especially for those who are struggling,” Kraus said.

Kraus described ways in which students would be affected. She said that there will be larger class sizes with the reduction in staffing, due to attrition, and the elimination of class size reduction for ninth grade math. Just two years ago, it became a requirement of all ninth grade students to take Algebra 1.

“Increased class sizes also mean there will be less time for teachers to provide one-on-one assistance,” Kraus said. “Increased class sizes are not good for any student, but they’re even worse for those who are struggling.”

Kraus said that some of the main concerns of the membership in regards to the agreement had to do with the salary reduction being attached to a reduction in days, if the same reduction would be taken by the administration, and if all of the OTA members who were pink slipped would be reinstated.

Malone said that district administrators and board members will take the same 2.5 percent reduction and that the trustees will vote on their reduction at an upcoming board meeting.

Many teachers are already paying money out of their own pockets to fund supplies for their classrooms. Some have had help from parents, but they too are in tighter financial times.

“A reduction in pay will reduce, or eliminate, the teachers’ ability to pay for some of the things they currently buy with their own money,” Kraus said. “This often includes materials for special projects, books for classroom libraries, equipment, backpacks/clothes/shoes/supplies for needy students, student rewards, and much more.”

Malone said that the classified bargaining unit and the district start negotiations on April 22.

“It is our hope that these negotiations will move along quickly,” he said. “The OJUSD is requesting the same reduction from classified staff as it has received from certificated.”