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‘New Denair’ on the horizon

District and union strike a deal

POSTED January 30, 2014 10:03 p.m.

After more than a year of disagreements and setbacks the Denair Unified School District and the Denair Unified Teachers’ Association have struck a deal and escaped the threat of a state takeover, but not without the hallmark thorniness that has plagued their relationship.

The fact finding report that was delivered last week provided a basis on which the District and DUTA negotiated. DUTA ratified the tentative agreement on Wednesday and acquiesced to an 8 percent retroactive pay cut from their paychecks.

“I can guarantee that no one voted for that yes box with a smile on their face,” said Barry Cole, DUTA president at a special board meeting Thursday evening.

Sixty members of the Association voted yes to the pay cut while three voted no, two abstained and four did not vote.

The Board unanimously approved the agreement, which will fulfill a three year contract since the District is legally obligated to prove that they can be financially sound in that amount of time.

“It feels good. It’s been a long time coming,” said Robert Hodges, Board president. “Now we go on as planned and get our fiscal house in order. It’s time for the new Denair, a new dawn.”

The District’s step forward was not without its signature blemish of a disagreement between the union and the District. At the beginning of the school year, administrative employees were prepared to take an 11 percent pay cut to their salaries but once the District lowered that to an 8 percent cut, it amounted to a raise with restored salaries in the eyes of the Association.

“I understand if you want everybody to be equal, 8 percent means 8 percent for all employee groups. But is it truly 8 percent when that employee group was already given such an increase less than a year ago?” Cole asked the Board Thursday evening.

After the fact findings report suggested the District pull from general fund resources as well as Charter school resources and the Association agreed to an 8 percent pay cut, it was a fiscally sound option for the District to equalize cuts across the board, reducing administrative employee’s concessions to 8 percent according to financial advisor Douglas Crancer. The Board unanimously voted to reduce the administrative employees cut by 3 percent.

In the future the District still needs to eliminate eight full time equivalent positions to continue towards fiscal restoration, which may mean eight layoffs depending upon retirements.

Thursday’s board meeting also marked Interim Superintendent Walt Hanline’s final formal board meeting.

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