Wednesday, November 26, 2014


By J.K. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle |

Updated 2:54 pm, Tuesday, November 25, 2014  ::  After 11 months of negotiations, the San Francisco Unified School District and the United Educators of San Francisco have agreed on a tentative contract that would give teachers and teaching assistants a 12 percent raise over three years.

The raises are among the largest recently agreed to for any urban school district in California, according to Superintendent Richard Carranza.

“To ensure our students get the education they need to be successful, we must invest in the people who are charged with teaching and supporting them in the classroom,” Carranza said.

Most beginning teachers now make $50,000 per year for 184 workdays. Once the raise is in full effect after three years, the starting salary would be around $56,300. The current salary for a teacher with average tenure — 12 years — is $69,135. In three years a teacher with 12 years of experience will be making almost $78,000 under the contract.

The contract will give educators “a fighting chance to stay, live and work in San Francisco,” said Dennis Kelly, who heads up the teachers union.

This deal “does not settle the problems we have with teachers staying in San Francisco,” he said. “But it helps. It helps very much.”

The tentative agreement also provides additional compensation for teaching assistants, known as paraprofessionals, most of whom work directly with students with special needs. Under the deal, paraprofessionals will receive the same 12 percent over three years as the teachers. In addition paraprofessionals with more than eight years in the district — about 70 percent — would get an extra 3 percent, bringing their three-year salary increase to 15 percent.

In addition to the salary increases, the agreement includes a significant increase in elementary teacher preparation time that includes time for teachers to collaborate and develop personalized instruction for every student. Prep time for elementary school teachers within the workday will jump from 60 minutes per week to 150 minutes per week.

The SFUSD Board of Education will vote on the agreement at an upcoming meeting. San Francisco teachers will vote on the tentative agreement by mail, with ballots due by Dec. 11, 2014. If everything goes as planned, the raises, which are retroactive to July 1, will show up in paychecks before the end of the year.

The union and the administrators reached an impasse in June, which led to mediation. But Kelly said that it was really when the mediator “stepped away” that progress was made. “You don’t solve these things through a mediator. You solve them by talking,” he said. “All in all this was a long road, but it was a fruitful road.”

Kelly said the union set out with three goals: a double-digit salary increase, extra raises for the paraprofessionals, and more preparation time for elementary school teachers. Originally Kelly had hoped to get 20 percent in raises.

Sandra Fewer, president of the Board of Education, said she was “relieved that (the tentative agreement) was done before the end of the year so that our employees can have a nice holiday. We get e-mails daily from teachers about this contract. Now they can concentrate on enjoying the end of the year.”

The contract agreement was announced at Francisco Middle School in North Beach. Patrick Whelly, a paraprofessional at the school who happened to be walking through the school yard during the announcement, was pleasantly surprised by the announcement. He said paraprofessionals have historically felt “underrepresented by the union.”

“Most people who work as paraprofessionals have other jobs to supplement their income,” he said. “This will help out a little bit.”

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