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School District May Reopen Negotiations with Teachers

At issue: wages and class sizes.

Despite a post-strike settlement that was to resolve the issue of teachers’ pay and class size through June 2012, the is looking to reopen contract negotiations with teachers. The net effect could be larger class sizes next year.

The proposal is an informational item only on Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting. The board is set to hear similar proposals to reopen negotiations with the two unions that represent non-teaching employees in the district. Those employees are facing possible reductions in wages and hours.

Continuing the recent theme of financial gloom and doom, the school board is also scheduled to hear a report about financial adjustments the district needs to make this year. In the report, Superintendent Joseph Farley indicates that the board must make $12 million of additional cuts this school year so that they may be incorporated into the next year’s budget. The purpose is to keep the district’s “rainy day” reserves fund above 2 percent of the total budget.

The additional shortfall was created by additional expenses from items such as additional worker compensation contributions, special education and flood damage, Walton said.

Regarding class size, the teachers’ current contract calls for the following students-to-teacher ratios throughout the grades:

  • Kindergarten: 30.5 students to 1 teacher
  • Grades 1-5:  31.5 students to 1 teacher
  • Grades 6-8: 32.5 students to 1 teacher
  • Grades 9-12: 34.5 students to 1 teacher 

The district rounds the .5 student, said CUSD spokesman Marcus Walton.

The state has set maximum class sizes; CUSD is already at the upper limit. School districts may ask for a waiver to raise class sizes or face penalties. High schools have no mandated size limits.

The district is expecting the Capistrano Unified Education Association to submit a proposal by April 1 that addresses possible changes to class sizes and wages.

Vicki Soderberg, president of the teachers union, said last year’s settlement agreement allowed for “limited reopeners” for the 2011-12 school year. Although the agendas for the school board’s last four closed sessions included talks with the various unions, Soderberg declined to comment on the tenor of those talks.

According to the staff report to the school board, the automatic step-in-pay and other benefits will cost the district $2.9 million more next year over this year’s budget.

“The actual fiscal cost and/or savings to the district will depend on the total compensation agreed to in any newly negotiated agreement,” Farley wrote in his report.

District officials have said they are facing as much as for the coming school year. More recently, district officials have used $30 million as a worst-case scenario. This figure does not include federal jobs money the district already has in hand.

Tuesday’s agenda items come one meeting after the school board decided to , counselors, nurses and psychologists, 334 of whom are teachers.

“The district doesn’t want to let any teachers go, but we must prepare for declining enrollment and be prepared to negotiate in the event we need to reopen class size,” district spokesman Walton told Patch.

In other items, the board is set to:

  • Consider giving the green light to a . Oxford Preparatory Academy expects to draw 501 current district students to its program.
  • Award a $3-million contract to Horizons Construction Co. International of Anaheim to at .
  • Hear a report about the district’s two-way-immersion program that aims to achieve biliteracy in Spanish and English.

To view the entire agenda, visit capousd.ca.schoolloop.com/. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at 33122 Valle Rd. in San Juan Capistrano.

Capo mom March 08, 2011 at 06:49 AM
Taxes are not levied contractually, they are imposed. So your argument isn't really on point.
Shripathi Kamath March 08, 2011 at 07:47 AM
Given that I said nothing about taxes, but cited a commentary specifically complementing Reality Check's comment on honoring contracts, I'd say you missed my point as well in addition to Jon Stewart's. It matters not anymore.
PC April 06, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Can't we start the process of firing the worthless teachers and eliminate the waste and fraud?
Bob Rohwer April 06, 2011 at 07:39 PM
Can we fire "worthless" parents too?
Sandy April 20, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Capo Mom, It really appears that you are disappointed with the quality of CUSD district teachers. Could I ask, what have you personally done to benefit the students of South Orange County? Stop blaming teachers and teacher unions for all CUSD problems and offer "real" solutions that "you" can implement. I would like to challenge you to teach at any school for an entire week or better off, an entire year. Hopefully, then you will be able to personally witness the amount of hard work and dedication teachers put into their work. It is difficult parents like you, who have too much free time on their hands, that discourage new teachers from entering a once respected profession. Teachers deserve to earn a decent living just like any other profession. Professionals, who possess masters degrees and a number of years of professional work experience, in any other field make a far larger salary. Although no one becomes a teacher to get rich, I believe teachers are also entitled to a fair wage.

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