Teachers in the San Mateo Union High School District are getting a raise for the second year in a row, which the district says will help offset rising health care costs.
At a meeting Thursday night, the district voted 4-1 to give teachers a 5 percent raise for this school year, costing $2,367,500. The negotiations started at the end of the last school year, but the San Mateo Union High School District Teachers Association and the district decided to postpone the talks until the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula was clearer since this would affect the district’s budget.
The teachers association was mostly pleased yet still concerned with the agreement, said Craig Childress, president of the teachers association.
“This particular agreement is the first time in the history of district that employees will be out of pocket for health care,” he said. “It’s concerning, but we’re not displeased with the contract. It’s a fair salary settlement based on the district’s income level.”
The district has put a cap on health benefits, said Elizabeth McManus, deputy superintendent of business services, and the raise helps offset this.
“Teachers have used the majority of increases to support increases in health care costs,” McManus said. “The bottom line is that in the state of California, we’ve seen premiums go up by double digits. These are huge changes that will cost employees more money. It’s very cost prohibitive getting health benefits.”
Although Trustee Stephen Rogers voted in favor of the agreement, he takes issue with how the negotiation process is run. He said he couldn’t go into detail, as some of the process took place in closed session.
“Our teachers do a great job,” Rogers said. “My disagreement was with how the process worked. There are a host of things we’ve got to get better on [for negotiations]. I wish the process was different, with some chances on both sides. We could get to better resolutions; sometimes emotions come into it and that’s not what it should be like.”
In contrast, board President Peter Hanley voted against the measure since he believes there is still a lot of economic uncertainty and would have supported a single-year raise or bonus, but not as part of the regular certified salary schedule. This is an unnecessary risk, he said.
“There’s a tremendous amount of expenses for buildings and Common Core implementation,” he said. “We have to expand our workforce to have people to take care of these buildings. There’s going to be a huge bulge in the student population in the next five to six years too.”
Additionally, he is concerned about uncertain property values, which may not continue to grow.
Last year, teachers received a raise of 2 percent raise.
The district currently employs approximately 480 teachers. District teachers earn more than $85,000 annually on average, said McManus.
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