LTUSD classified employees and teachers get raise |

LTUSD classified employees and teachers get raise

Jill Darby

The Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education approved Tuesday a 3.87 percent salary schedule increase for classified employees.

The board’s ratification of a tentative agreement with the California School Employees Association, provides the raise for the 2001-02 school year, retroactive to July 1, plus health and welfare benefits.

The district settled the same package in early September with the South Tahoe Educators Association.

“All contracted groups have settled for 3.87 (percent) plus benefits,” said Chief Financial Officer Joe White, a member of the district’s negotiating team.

The salary increases are coming from a Cost of Living Allowance provided by the state of California on major revenue sources. The district passed on the COLA to union members, White said.

“There was the state COLA and the district paid for the increase in our benefits and I thought it was fair,” CSEA President Becky Fortier said. “I thought it was fine.”

White said the district has taken measures to ensure the provision of salary increases, while at the same time, maintaining fiscal responsibility for the district.

“We’ve got agreement to protect revenues for a longer period of time,” White said. “We are making projections on what expenditures we can cut, what we can save because we are facing declining enrollment. We have revenues protected until, I think, it’s 2006.”

In past years, salary negotiations have been controversial.

The 2000 settlement brought to a close more than two years of heated discussions and teacher picketing. All negotiated contract groups received an 8.9 percent salary schedule increase plus a 1.1 percent increase for health and welfare. However, the deal only covered through June 30, 2001 so teachers and administrators agreed to meet on a monthly basis to start negotiations for the following year’s bargaining process.

Now, almost a year later, monthly contract review meetings have paid off, White said.

“(Superintendent) Diane Scheerhorn has been doing contract review since last January or February which means they meet basically every month,” White said, adding there was a slight break in meeting dates during summer vacation. “It’s been steady, ongoing. You bring up contract language, as well as salary, and I think it keeps communication lines open.”

Scheerhorn shared similar sentiments at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“It’s been a great negotiation process,” Scheerhorn said. “It really has to do with having a year-round contract review and dealing with issues as they come up.”

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