LTUSD Board approves new contract |

LTUSD Board approves new contract

Cheers filled the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board Room last night, as two years of exhausting salary negotiations came to an end.

On May 4, teachers ratified a tentative contract drafted at an April 19 negotiation meeting between the district and the South Tahoe Educators’ Association, leaving the final decision up to the Board of Education.

“The next (agenda) item with great pleasure is the tentative agreement with the South Tahoe Educators’ Association,” Board President Wendy David said at Tuesday’s meeting.

LTUSD Chief Financial Officer Joe White gave a brief overview of the contract disclosure statement, followed by David’s call for action.

The board voted yes to the terms of the agreement, without hesitation.

“All in favor?” David asked. “All in favor say ‘Hallelujah.'”

The decision was greeted with applause from an audience of teachers and community members.

The new contract will bring many positive changes for LTUSD teachers, including retroactive pay for the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 school years. In addition, three staff development days will be added to the salary schedule and longevity incentives and a new beginning teacher salary program will become effective.

STEA President Mike Patterson said the teachers expected the board to ratify the agreement.

“We think we were able to reach a fair compromise,” Patterson said.

And though this long-awaited resolution has been finalized at last, the district and teachers aren’t exactly home-free.

Negotiations for next year are scheduled to start sometime in August or September, after the governor’s budget is determined.

“Next year our insurance costs are going to go way up for our benefit packages,” Patterson said. “So we need to start working on that almost immediately.”

Board member Sue Yang emphasized the importance of continuing to rework the budget.

“I am absolutely thrilled with these numbers,” Yang said at the meeting on Tuesday evening. “But we do want to continue to look at the way we do budgeting.”

White said that budget cuts and state revenues will take care of the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 salary increases, but there are other long-term issues that still need to be addressed.

“These are short term solutions,” White said. “We’ll look at further refinements next year for the future years.”

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