By Rick LaPlante, New Haven Schools Director of Parent and Community Relations
New Haven Unified School District teachers voted Monday to work and be paid for nine fewer days than during a normal school year and to take an additional 1 percent pay cut to help mitigate cuts forced on the District because of the ongoing state budget crisis. And the District reached tentative, identical agreements Monday with classified employees and administrators.
Members of the New Haven Teachers Association voted 258-76 to approve adjustments to their existing contract that will cost a typical teacher nearly $7,500 during the 2012-13 school year.
“This is an extraordinary effort on the part of our teachers, and I applaud our classified employees and administrators for their cooperation as well,” Superintendent Kari McVeigh said. “I hope the community realizes what a tremendous sacrifice these people are making for the sake of our children.”
Pending ratification votes by the California School Employees Association and the New Haven Administrators Association and approval next Tuesday by the Board of Education, the agreements will enable to District to continue to offer middle school electives such as music and art and retain most of the elementary school specialists who teach science, music and physical education. About 25 percent of library services will be maintained at the secondary level, and two-thirds of the funding will be provided for stipends for after-school activities such as athletics, band and forensics.
The school year will remain at 175 days, the same as in 2011-12 but five days fewer than in previous years. Teachers will give up four additional workdays: two days of preparation time at the beginning of the school year, a midyear grading day and one day at the end of the year. Classified employees and administrators also will give up the four additional workdays.
The changes also include a one-year freeze on “step-and-column” salary increases.
“Depending on their job, length of service and other factors, employees will be sacrificing several thousand dollars each to help the District maintain as much of its core academic program as possible in 2012-13,” Superintendent McVeigh said.
For example, a teacher with 10 years of experience and 60 units of additional college credit, would earn nearly $7,500 less in 2012-13 than he or she would have earned in 2010-11, the year before employees were forced to take days off without pay.
“This isn’t pizza money that our employees are giving up,” Superintendent McVeigh said. “This is the monthly car payment, a big chunk of the mortgage, child-care costs or maybe a college tuition payment.”
Facing a $12 million budget deficit for 2012-13, the District earlier this spring was forced to issue more than 100 precautionary layoff notices to teachers, classified employees and administrators, including the equivalent of nearly 70 full-time teachers. Approximately 30 teachers still will lose their jobs, and class-size ratios in kindergarten, first and second grades still will increase to 30-to-1.
“Despite the significant sacrifice that teachers are making, our schools won’t be what we had hoped for our students,” James Logan High School teacher and NHTA President Charmaine Banther said. “The school year is shorter than it should be, our youngest students are in classes of 30, and our library services have been reduced. Our children deserve better.”