The Sequoia District Teachers Association (SDTA) and the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) have settled on a 7.75% raise in a tentative agreement for the 2023-24 school year.
To support this raise, the District re-allocated more than $10 million in this year’s budget. The agreement also outlined many other changes in regards to healthcare, leaves, and specific wages. The changes will retroactively apply to the full 2023-2024 school year.
In initial negotiations, the Union was aiming to get a two-year contract with a 10% raise this year and an 8% raise the next. The District countered this by offering a 3.5% and 2% raise in the next two years. The final 7.75% raise for this year is one percent higher than the average of the original proposals.
SDTA President Edith Salvatore said, “I’m really pleased with this agreement and optimistic our members will be too. 7.75% is the largest raise we have received in the 27 years I have been a part of this District, but it still is barely enough to pull some of our members above the poverty level for this area, based on the cost of living here.”
She continued, saying, “While I think our team was overall a bit disappointed that we weren’t able to secure a salary settlement for next year, we are optimistic that once the Board and District see that they have the capacity to pay educators what they’re worth, it will not be as difficult to come to an agreement in the future.”
The SDTA Bargaining team will go back to the table this Spring to negotiate for next year’s salary and other modifications.
Salvatore said, “In addition to the financial gains, I’m also incredibly proud of the improvements we were able to work out with the District to move closer toward our shared goals of not just recruiting and retaining strong educators, but also making their workloads more manageable so that the job can be sustainable.”
Besides their financial settlement, here are some other notable developments outlined in their agreement:
- “Religious and Cultural Observance” is now included as a reason for union members to use their Family Illness leave days, which grants them up to four days of paid leave per year.
- The District will grant union members up to 5 days of COVID leave as a Side Letter Agreement.
- The District will provide up to $4,000 in annual dental coverage, a dramatic increase from the previous $1,000.
- Athletic Directors, Bilingual Resource teachers, Instructional Coaches, and “all certificated non-management staff on special assignment” will be added to the list of certificated positions identified as part of the SDTA Bargaining Unit, allowing these faculty members to also get the raise.
- Union members who perform “special education academic testing, psychological assessment, or speech and language assessment” in a second language spoken by at least 15% of the student population will receive a yearly stipend, or fixed sum added to their salary effective July 1, 2024.
- The District will pay Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) up to $300 to renew their required license.
- The District will pay non-itinerant multi-school union members a $3,000 stipend per semester as a Side Letter Agreement, which isn’t part of the primary contract but carries the same weight.
- The District will grant SLPs, School Psychologists, and Mental Health Support Specialists recruitment and retention bonuses following the first, third, and fifth year of the agreement as a Side Letter Agreement. This agreement will be revisited when creating a contract for the second year to “consider alternative methods to recruit and retain in these hard-to-fill positions.”