Denair Unified to vote on teacher, management contracts

naustin@modbee.comJanuary 29, 2014 

— Denair Unified School District board members will vote tonight on a contract for their teachers. The newly released contract includes an 8 percent retroactive salary cut for 2013-14, which will save the district $298,700 but take a painful chunk out of the next six months’ paychecks.

Trustees also will consider giving back 3 percent of salary that management had given up for the year. Nonunion administrative employees took an 11 percent cut. The agreement to be considered dials that back to 8 percent, a $27,200 total cost to the district, according to agenda documents.

Both proposals will be given a public hearing before the vote. The three-year contract includes two days of teacher training, at additional pay, but cuts elementary teacher prep time and extra pay for working multiple sites. It includes full-day kindergarten.

At the contract’s end, salaries reset to 2007-08 prerecession highs, but with a critical proviso: if the district can afford it. That language was not in the prior contract, leaving Denair struggling with teacher salaries that went up instead of down as it used borrowed money to pay its bills.

Negotiations stalled between the district and the Denair Unified Teachers Association. A fact-finding report released last week suggested a multiyear solution to restore district solvency without “draconian” pay cuts.

DUTA President Barry Cole said the votes were being counted Wednesday evening on the contract, but he predicted it would pass. With teacher passage and trustee approval, the Stanislaus County Office of Education is expected to halt the process for a state takeover of the district June 30.

Denair Unified did not lay off staff as classes shrunk and the state cut funding during the recession. It ran through reserves and ran into the red in spring 2013. This year, without the teacher contract, it was slated to spend more than $650,000 above what it made in revenue, which would have triggered state receivership for the district.

In other business, the board will vote on a bureaucratic detail of great community significance, removing signing authority from interim Superintendent Walt Hanline and interim Deputy Superintendent Mary Jones. Both retired educators from Ceres Unified, the pair worked as co-leaders on a daily-pay basis to run the district this year. Hanline was hired in April after the negotiated resignation of Superintendent Ed Parraz.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. today in the Denair Middle School Coyote Center, 3701 Lester Road.

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