Your CUTA bargaining team and the District met on Thursday, September 13, for the first negotiations session of the 2018-2019 school year. We began the session by reviewing the wage agreement ratified last spring. Based on the agreement and the numbers from the state, the wage increase for this school year will be 6.98%. The District contribution for health benefits will also increase by 6.98%, which means it will be approximately $1,196 per month. This increase will be adopted by the Board on Wednesday. These changes will appear on the paycheck you receive at the end of September. In addition, the District will be issuing a retro check in mid-October to make up the difference for your August check, which did not have the wage increase for this year.
This is a sizeable raise, and it shows that the District and the School Board were willing to put employee compensation at the top of their list of priorities. The District took a risk by making a generous multi-year wage agreement with us, and, unfortunately, their worst case scenario is unfolding right now. First of all, their predicted enrollment increase for this year has not materialized. More students would have meant more money, and that would have given them more financial flexibility. In addition, the District was counting on approximately $4 million in one-time money this year. The state legislature decided to instead give that money as ongoing dollars. Although that sounds like good news, and it was for our raise, it means that the $4 million became part of the employee compensation agreement, and the District could no longer use it for other financial needs.
As employees, we need to understand the position the District is in. They will be looking for ways to save money across the district. As we negotiate this year, we have to be realistic. We will have to choose carefully as we look at our agenda for negotiations. The District made a serious commitment to its employees with this wage agreement. We need to respect the position they are in this year.
We also began our discussion on contract language for all-day K, which is meant to represent the current MOU language. We will be moving slowly on this so that we can get feedback from teachers and administrators on how the MOU is working.
In addition, the District shared with us changes to the BTSA program. It is returning to being a two year program, and the Butte County Office of Education (BCOE) will be offering the program for $3,000 annually ($6,000 in total). The District understands that coming up with $3,000 “up front”, so to speak, is a hardship for beginning teachers. They have worked out an arrangement with BCOE in which the District pays $1,500 up front each year, and the beginning teachers are responsible for the remaining $1,500 in monthly payments. We have contract language that the District will reimburse up to $3,000 for BTSA, and this would help beginning teachers manage the annual cost by providing the money as a down payment to BCOE. We will develop an MOU to this effect in the coming weeks.
Other topics we discussed included:
Thank you for taking the time to stay informed.
Chico Unified Teachers Association
Michelle Bunch serves as Vice President and Public Relations Chair for CUTA.