Modesto City Schools and its teachers have a tentative deal at least until Election Day. Contract talks will reopen if state tax initiatives fail, said Megan Gowans, executive director of the Modesto Teachers Association.
The deal cuts days and dollars for preschool teachers, but brings back every position and leaves pay for kindergarten through high school teachers untouched.
Union members will vote on the pact Aug. 6.
"We think it's a fair settlement. It's not a great one we didn't return student attendance days. But it's fair for now," Gowans said.
Modesto City Schools Superintendent Pam Able said she was pleased with the agreement. "I am looking forward to the new school year, knowing that everyone is in place and our educational programs will not miss a beat," she said by e-mail.
Negotiations will begin again in November, after any midyear cuts are known.
For the first time, teacher layoffs could happen midyear, Gowans said. Existing law prohibits teacher layoffs without formal notice by March 15. That provision will be struck if tax initiatives fail, she said.
Also potentially on the table is a school year ending May 9, 2013, for Modesto City students. The state would allow a shorter calendar to offset midyear cuts, though unions would have to sign off on cuts in pay and pension credits.
The deal reached this week keeps in place the 175-day year for Modesto students, already one week shorter than the traditional minimum.
It also restores stipends for department chairs in core high school subjects. Gowans said the move follows accreditation team recommendations for Elliott, Modesto and Davis high schools.
For preschools, the pact restores the jobs of all 60 instructors laid off in March.
State preschool teachers took a 5 percent cut in pay. Part-day Head Start teachers lost a half-hour of daily preparation time. Both will have seven fewer preparation and training days.
The schedule for preschoolers, however, remains the same. Full-day Head Start programs were not affected.
An additional 70 preschool aides and support staff were laid off in early May. Their union has not settled yet, Able said. District and union negotiators will meet with a mediator later this summer.
Looking forward, Gowans said teachers will work to help pass Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative. She said the union is planning activities on Oct. 5, a furlough day, to drum up local support for the measure.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2339.