Mount Diablo school trustees approved new contracts with its teachers and classified employees Tuesday night for the school year that is now coming to an end, and prepared a list of positions that will be eliminated with the closure of Holbrook Elementary and Glenbrook Middle schools.
Teachers agreed to take an additional three furlough days on May 6, 27 and 31. In turn, Mount Diablo Education Association negotiators bargained to keep teacher prep periods, saving jobs, according to the MDEA.
The one-year contract will save the district about $1.9 million, said Superintendent Steven Lawrence.
Normally the district and the unions work out three-year contracts, said board President Gary Eberhart, “but these are extraordinary times, so we look forward to a positive working relationship for the years of the agreements still to come.”
The district and MDEA will pick up bargaining sessions for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 contracts in September, he said.
District board members also approved a three-year contract with the California School Employees Association, which covers many of the non-teaching employees. The contract caps health benefits for the members, which means beginning Jan. 1 of this year, members will have to pay the difference between what Kaiser charged last year and subsequent increases. New employees will have to work a minimum of seven hours per day and 35 hours per week to receive full benefits; those working fewer hours will have their benefits pro-rated. Classified employees also will take furlough days – most will take three this school year and as many as nine per school year by 2013.
Lawrence thanked the union for the contract. “We never like to ask for concessions, but the CSEA recognized the dire financial situation the district faces.”
According to Lawrence, the CSEA contract will save the district $208,720 from furlough days and $29 million in health-care costs over the three-year contract.
With major funding cuts looming from the uncertain state budget, as well as a steadily declining school population, the school district may lose as much as $30 million from the $164 million it receives in unrestricted funds.
Board members also voted to begin layoff procedures for about 25 employees following the closures of Holbrook Elementary and Glenbrook middle schools. Not all positions are full time and not all employees working at those schools will be let go, Lawrence said. Layoffs will be determined by seniority within the district.
Trustees Cheryl Hansen and Eberhart urged the district staff to come up with specific figures that showed how much money the district was saving by closing the two schools.
“The original budget cuts (for closing the schools) was $1.5 million, but they weren’t itemized,” said Hansen. “We’re at a stage where we can’t have a fantasy figure. We need see a better estimation, but that ($1.5 million) is the only information that the public has been given. Not to itemize at this state is a disservice to the community.”
District Chief Financial Officer Bryan Richards said that the district had not reached the goal of cutting $1.5 million from the budget because it had voted to close two schools instead of three or four, as envisioned in 2010. He said the district would have a better idea of how much it has saved once it has gone through the seniority and retirement lists to see who will be let go.
Amidst the budget bloodletting, a group of the district’s foreign language teachers asked the board to exempt their classes from increased class sizes, combined sections and elimination of classes.
“Students all over the world are learning multiple languages and we are putting our students at a disadvantage,” they said in a written statement.