Financial woes may spell trouble for San Carlos Teachers contract negotiations…

December 13, 2008

You may recall an article I wrote back in June titled “A Teacher's Strike?  It could happen..”  This article discussed the status of the contract negotiations that were taking place between San Carlos Teachers and the San Carlos School District.   At that time, the two sides were significantly apart of a number of issues.  But they subsequently managed to make very good progress, and both sides left the table feeling confident that an agreement would be reached.

Fast-forward to today;  the financial stability of the State of California has crumbled, and the State is looking to cut funding to schools.  Combine that with the recent failure of Measure S , and we all knew San Carlos schools were in for some tough changes.   San Carlos School Board member Mark Olbert put together a nice article on his blog that outlines the challenges the School Board faces in keeping the revenue reserves out of the “red zone.”

But perhaps lost in all of this is how the loss of funding will impact the teacher/district negotiations.   Well, we got a glimpse of our answer today. Below is the latest Superintendent's Bulletin that was just sent out by San Carlos Superintendent Steve Mitrovich.  As I have said before, kudos to Steve for being so proactive, regardless of whether the news is good or bad.  But make no mistake — the message in the “Summary” paragraph of his bulletin is not an optimistic outlook.  Here's his bulletin in its entirety:

Superintendent's Message

Negotiations Update
December 2008

As you may know, our district now has a qualified budget. That means with tentatively proposed reductions in our budget, we will be able to meet our financial obligations but we will not have the state mandated 3% budget reserve in the 2010-2011 school year.  With this information in mind, I wanted to update you on progress of the 2008-2009 negotiations between the San Carlos School District and the San Carlos Teachers Association.  We have met three times in all-day sessions so far this year.  Here is a summary recap of the last positions as of December 9, 2008. The parties have two dates tentatively scheduled for negotiations in January.

San Carlos Teachers Associations Proposals

Salary and Benefits
An as yet unspecified increase in teacher salaries.  An increase in district-provided health benefit package of $500 a year for each union member who receives health benefits. A revised “compacted” salary schedule resulting in teachers receiving earlier longevity bonuses and reaching their maximum potential salary in six fewer years.  The cost of this proposal is $105,000 to the District. Also proposed were some additional stipends and an increase in hourly compensation.


Status quo contract language but a consideration of interest-based bargaining on a trial basis.


A limit on the number of staff meetings on Tuesdays. Status quo on  current contract language that limits the District's right to have no more than 10 staff development days per year on Wednesday minimum days during work hours.

San Carlos School District Proposals

Salary and Benefits

The District proposed a suspension of negotiations until the status of mid-year cuts is known.  The District also discussed the possibility of changing contract language to save money or a possible reduction in the salary schedule or District paid health benefits if the Legislature and Governor decide to impose mid-year cuts on California school districts.


The District has proposed negotiation in public but has expressed potential interest in interest-based bargaining.


A reduction of the number of staff meetings on Tuesdays. A continuation of the current contract language that limits the District's rights to have more than 10 district lead staff development days during work hours but the addition of language that would allow the site principal to have site level staff development meetings after consulting with the teaching staff.


As is evident from the above, the biggest gap for the parties to overcome is the issue of salaries and benefits, especially now that the District has self-certified that it is legally projected to be in “qualified” status in the 2010-2011 year pursuant to Education Code section 42131 and Government Code section 3547.5.  One of the legal implications of being in qualified status is that both I, in my capacity as District Superintendent, and the District's Chief Business Official, must certify in writing that the costs of any negotiated agreement with the Teacher's Association can be met by the District during the term of the Agreement.  As the current labor agreement expires on June 30, 2010, this will be a major challenge for us.

What happens from here should be very interesting to see.

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