Denair Unified approves teacher contract

naustin@modbee.comJanuary 30, 2014 

The Denair Unified School District board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a contract with its teachers and restore some pay to its administrators.

The vote brings to a successful close negotiations that began in December 2012. A fact-finding report brought about a compromise, multiyear deal to bring the district back into black.

Teachers will take an 8 percent retroactive salary cut for the year, with some relief from two added training days paid by Common Core funds. Administrators, who took an 11 percent cut early on, will get 3 percent back under the new agreement. Support staff took a 7.75 percent cut in their 2013-14 contract.

“I think today’s a great day for many reasons. For one thing, we got some rain,” said teacher John Stavrianoudakis. The contract was approved, teachers found “vindication” in the fact-finding report and a new superintendent is coming. “We’re getting our family back. A brighter day is coming.”

Denair Unified Teachers Association members voted overwhelmingly for the contract, 60-to-3, with two abstentions, said President Barry Cole. “It wasn’t a high vote for the (contract). It was a vote for how much they believe in our negotiating team to get the best deal we can for them,” Cole said.

“I guarantee you nobody put a check in that ‘yes’ vote with a smile on their face. There were a lot of tears in the eye, because it’s going to hurt,” he told the board.

The issue teachers had was with raising administrative salaries. Though nonunion management had taken an 11 percent salary cut, teachers contend managers got a hefty raise before taking that cut.

DUTA compiled a chart showing administrators – even with the 11 percent cut – still make on average 5 percent more than they did in 2012-13.

Those higher salaries were from recalculating wages to match the jobs administrators really were doing, said Interim Chief Business Official Doug Crancer.

For example, Aaron Delworth was being paid as a fourth-year teacher even after being promoted to serve as principal of Denair Middle and High schools. His 2013-14 salary went up by nearly half. Others salary changes were far more modest.

With the new teacher contract, the district is on track to stop its overspending, repay borrowed funds and restore the required reserve level by the end of 2015-16, Crancer said.

A significant increase in state funding for education will help. However, the district will need to cut eight teacher positions for next year, he said.

With the teachers’ contract settled, the Stanislaus County Office of Education is expected to halt the process of moving toward a state takeover of the district because of ongoing deficit spending.

The fact-finding report noted Denair’s funding problems stemmed chiefly from enrollment losses to its charter school and state funding cuts to all schools. The report found district administration at fault “in significant part.”

The report lambastes the district for ignoring the county office’s advice to budget realistically in the recession, choosing to avoid layoffs as enrollment fell and failing to apply for money it was owed from the state for busing and other services.

“There’s a lot of damage control to be done, with both the district and DUTA,” said parent Jim Lawson, who said the lack of parents at the meeting should concern everyone.

The board also unanimously shifted signature authority from Interim Superintendent Walt Hanline to incoming Superintendent Aaron Rosander, another fresh start for the beleaguered district.

Borba stood to thank Hanline. “Very few could have done what you’ve done, in my opinion,” he said.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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