After months of negotiations that at one time ended in an impasse, Turlock Unified School District has officially reached an agreement with the over 700 members of Turlock Teachers Association.
“For the first time, we feel like the District has shown us in several ways that they value our time and our need to manage our time as professionals,” said TTA President Julie Shipman. “We feel this is a direct result of the leadership style and value placed on employees by Interim Superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan.”
As detailed in the contact, TTA members will receive a 4 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2015. Non-instructional rates will increase to $30 per hour, while instructional rates will increase to $40 per hour.
“Dana has come into this District with a different energy, a history in the District, and a lot of respect,” said Board President Frank Lima. “She took an approach in negotiations this year which were dramatically different than what I’ve seen in the last 15 years.”
The agreement also included special assignment pay changes to the high school cheerleader advisor position, which will see a salary increase from $3,600 to $4,200 per year; the "HS Other Athletic Coach Level 1" and "HS Other Athletic Coach Level 2," which will be paid at the rate of $2,750 per year; and BTSA Support Providers will be paid $1,200 per year for each participant.
The District will offer $500 as a one-time, off-schedule bonus for instructional materials to lessen the amount teachers pay out-of-pocket. These bonuses will be paid during the first feasible payroll cycle following ratification by both parties.
Additionally, the District will increase its annual health and welfare benefit contributions for eligible unit members from $5,406 to $7,124 per year for each employee, which will include Head Start and preschool teachers. Following the Board's approval, the District will request PERS to open a special enrollment opportunity.
“It’s an option and we’re absolutely going to explore that,” said Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jason Maggard in response to opening a special enrollment period. “Open enrollment clearly has been closed, and there’s a chance that it may not come through, but we’re going to do our best to make it happen.”
Despite the progress made with the approved agreement, Shipman said that she was still "extremely disappointed" that the District did not exhibit any interest in binding arbitration as the last step in the grievance process when a number of surrounding districts already have binding arbitration in place, including Ceres, Chatom, Denair, Modesto, Oakdale and Stanislaus County.
"We will bring it back in our next round of negotiations," said Shipman. “If you’re tired of hearing me bring it up, let’s get it done.”
Shipman added that while many members "still have a bitter taste in their mouths" resulting from inequitable pay raises in 2014-15 and benefit cap increases in 2015-16 to establish a uniformity among all employees, her association is willing to "put the past in the past" and move forward.
"The 4 percent salary increase and increased benefits cap has improved our standing in the county," said Shipman. "District salary comparisons as of a week ago show us to be third highest in the county, up from seventh place.
“We will see whether we maintain that position as other districts continue to settle their contracts,” continued Shipman.