Sequoia District teachers ‘happy’ to see pay rise with new contract | News

Teachers, librarians, counselors and other members of the Sequoia District Teachers Association (SDTA) will soon see a significant pay increase after the board voted unanimously to approve a new contract Wednesday night.

“I just wanted to take the time to say a heartfelt thank you to the teachers,” said Darnise Williams, district superintendent of Sequoia Union High School. “Our agreement reflected the concern and support we have for each of you.”

During a brief discussion, administrators thanked teachers for their hard work over the past year and throughout the pandemic. The vote took place in less than ten minutes.

The two-year deal includes a 2.5% salary increase for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, with an additional 2% increase from benefits savings, effective Jan. 1, 2023. The SDTA, which represents 627 members, initially proposed a 4% increase for this year, with a series of subsequent discussions in the coming year.

Edith Salvatore, SDTA president and math teacher at Sequoia High School, also addressed the board ahead of the vote.

“It was a unique round of negotiations for us,” she said during her presentation. In the end, she says, the proposed contract reflected the needs of both the district and the union, which ratified it with more than 98 percent of the vote.

“We’ve had a lot of talk, a lot of shared values ​​around maintaining our benefits for our employees while helping to contain costs to the district,” she said. “To consider ways to make some of these jobs more sustainable in the long term and also ways to create time for ongoing and unified professional development, which is one of the Superintendent’s goals.”

Based on up-to-date salary grids, non-executive graduate staff, which includes many teachers, has a starting salary of $70,979, which will increase to $72,753 for the current year. Salary increases for classified and certified management personnel, as well as confidential and unrepresented employees will be commensurate with those of the SDTA.

As for the terms of the new contract, anything that can go into effect immediately will, according to Salvatore. Union members will see the pay increase, along with a retroactive payment dating back to the summer of 2021, in their March 31 paycheck.

With the spring term already underway, the contract is coming later than usual. While the union’s initial proposal was presented at a public school board meeting in February 2021, COVID and hiring delays postponed active negotiations until October, Salvatore said.

“The tricky part, when you’re settling in and it’s all happening after winter break, is that the pay raise goes on your 2022 taxes,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, but there was no getting around it this year.”

Still, she told the Pulse she was happy with the contract, which, beyond guaranteeing members a raise, “has a number of improvements that will help make jobs more manageable and allow us to provide stronger services to our students”.

Committees will begin meeting immediately to discuss changes to health benefits, professional development, job descriptions and workloads for advisers and other non-class staff, she added.

“We have job descriptions that haven’t been updated since 1979. And I was a freshman in 1979,” Salvatore said with a laugh. “So we think some things have changed since then.”

William M. Mayer