Santa Barbara Unified and Teacher’s Association Reach Some Tentative Agreements During Negotiations

Dos Pueblos High School students walking out in protest to support teacher's strike on December 1, 2023 (Photo by an edhat reader)

District States Tentative Agreements Have Been Made on Health & Welfare Benefits and Class Size

The Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) and Santa Barbara Teachers Association (SBTA) met for their third round of 2024-2025 contract negotiations on Tuesday evening.

SBUSD announced it will distribute a “Negotiations Update” after meetings with SBTA to inform the community on the progress of negotiations.

During the meeting, both parties signed tentative agreements on health and welfare benefits, and class size. SBUSD stated the union accepted the District’s 11/15/2023 Health and Welfare Benefits proposal and the District’s 11/28/2023 counterproposal on Class Size.

For health and welfare benefits, the district agrees to pay 75% of medical benefit premium costs (including future premium increases) regardless of the plan chosen, effective July 1, 2024.

Currently the District covers 40% to 60% of medical benefits premium costs, depending on the plan chosen by employee.

If an employee opts to receive medical benefits through SBUSD this would reduce monthly out of pocket costs between $102 to $406 (employee only), $340 to $736 (employee plus one), and $371 to $937 (family).

The estimated District cost of this proposal is $3,081,422 to cover only the SBTA bargaining unit, according to SBUSD.

For reduced class sizes, SBTA accepted SBUSD’s 11/28/2023 proposal to include reduced class sizes permanently in the negotiated agreement.

For the last three years, the District and SBTA have agreed to a year-to-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) calling for reduced class sizes below the maximums in the negotiated agreement.

The reduced class sizes will be an additional $6.3M ongoing cost out of the regular budget because they were formerly paid for out of expiring one-time funds, according to SBUSD.

When it comes to salary, the District and SBTA have yet to come to an agreement.

SBTA initially proposed a 20% salary increase for the 2024-2025 school year. The District countered with an 8% increase in 2024-2025 and 4% increase in 2025-2026.

On Tuesday evening, SBTA offered a 15% in 2024-2025 and 8% in 2025-2026. SBTA stated the current District reserve is 17% and can be reduced to the Board Policy of a minimum 10% reserve in furtherance of funding a salary increase.

The District argued SBTA’s proposal could not be reconciled with its statement in support of maintaining a minimum 10% reserve and showed multiyear budget projections that the district’s initial proposal would require going below the 10% reserve mark.

SBUSD countered with a 9% increase for 2024-2025 and 4% increase for 2025-2026, plus an approximate 4% increase in beginning salary Step 1 and adding an additional Step 20 at a 4% increase.

The next negotiation sessions are scheduled for January 11, and 19, 2024 and February 6, 2024.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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    • Student walkouts have little impact in the grand scheme. The board has a responsibility to be fiscally responsibility with the budget. As alluded to in the negotiations update, they must look at the three year budget projections and retain at least 10% reserves. School finance experts suggest they maintain even higher reserves. Now the district’s latest offer takes them near or below their minimum 10% reserve in future years. This is surprising to me that they would offer this much as you usually do not see boards willing to go so low. Why would this be risky? The Legislative Analyst’s Office released their California’s Fiscal Outlook report last week and they predict a $68 billion deficit in the state’s coffers. That reduces the amounts of Prop 98 minimum school funding. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but there certainly needs to be even louder voices screaming at the state not to maintain but increase school funding. I agree that all school staff should be paid more, but financial uncertainty exists and boards (with a limited budget) do have to be mindful of not overspending.

  1. I wonder if step 1 should be a straight up raise, and not a %. Because it’s so expensive to live here, just give everyone $10k or $15k a year. Bring up the “floor”, so to speak. I know in my industry, your % raise decreases as your salary increases.

  2. Proud of the students for walking out and supporting their teachers and the quality of their own education. The big issue with the district is that there is no transparency in the budget. And much of the monies is not spent prudently. What happened to the vasts amounts of relief monies… SBUSD got 35,007.720.00. What we do know is that every raise or stipend teachers got the admin also got. This to me is corrupt when you consider that admin make upward of 250K. When you look at the big picture it is sad. Vulnerable students have poor outcomes. In 2022-23, only 8 percent of the district’s Emergent Multilingual Learners in 3rd grade could read at grade level. That number was 6 percent for students with learning differences. Teachers are leaving.. we lost 200 last year. Teachers are making substantially less than Goleta Unified. The only ones who are doing well are those in admin. This is why a top down model does not work. The system needs to be focused bottom up. … the unmet needs of the struggle students and teachers and para educators need competitive salaries or we will continue to have a district in chaos.

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