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TUSD, teachers come to tentative agreement
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Months of battling out ways to create a fiscally sound budget for the Turlock Unified School District is almost to an end as the board of trustees approved a tentative agreement with the Turlock Teachers Association on Tuesday.

“We are pleased to have (the board of trustees) approve our agreement,” said Julie Shipman, TTA president. “Our teachers are happy to hear that you guys are behind us. Sorry it took so long, but if we listened to each other we could have done it faster. We wanted a temporary fix to a temporary problem.”

TTA members still have to agree to the tentative contract, which they will vote on sometime next week, Shipman said.

“I anticipate it passing easily,” she said.  

The district declared impasse with TTA, Turlock Classified-American Federation of Teachers and the California School Employees Association on May 4 asking the unions to take a two percent pay cut to make up for a lack of money in the school budget.

TTA and CSEA were expected to move into fact finding within the next couple of weeks with the district. So far, TTA and TC-AFT have a tentative agreement with TUSD while CSEA is still in negotiations with the district.

“I am glad we are able to effectively start the year with an agreement,” said Frank Lima, TUSD Board of Trustees president. “The last few years have been really tough because the budget cuts are not good but I have a feeling, looking at the drastic cuts at Modesto City Schools and Ceres Unified, I think that once the dust settles, I think our teachers will be the best paid teachers in the county even with the two percent reduction.”

After months of negotiation and a fear of one party leaving negotiations unsatisfied, forming an agreement with the district and two unions is a great way to start the year.

“I appreciate the fact that we can start the year off with this under our belt,” said Loren Holt, TUSD trustee.

The board of trustees had planned to approve the agreement with TC-AFT at Tuesday’s meeting, but the item was removed from the agenda because additional language needed to be added.

“We expanded the language to include restoration language,” said Sonny Da Marto, TUSD superintendent. “We still have a tentative agreement with TC-AFT.”

The agreement with TTA also includes restoration language, which was the big item teachers wanted to guarantee their salaries, once money is restored from the state.

Restoration language declares that if “the funding provided to the district by the state increases above the level anticipated in the district’s three-year multi-year projection submitted with the adopted budget for 2010-11, salary restorations shall be made.”

Beginning with the 2010/2011 school year, all teachers’ salaries will be reduced by two percent and will remain cut until further negotiated, with restoration language involved. Teachers took a 0.5 percent salary reduction that is on-going, which totals to a 2.5 percent cut for the 2010/2011 school year.  Also starting this year, all K-6 sites will have two minimum days for employee collaboration and planning. Starting in the 2011/2012 school year, K-12 sites will have one minimum day on the first day of school for site and/or district meetings.

Teachers will also be given three of seven days for discretionary leave with four days to be used for personal necessity leave.

The TTA contract with the district will run until June 30, 2013.

“This isn’t a happy contract by any means, but it is a good contract,” Holt said.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.