School District and Teachers Association Reach Agreement on Working Conditions

Source: Santa Barbara Unified School District

Santa Barbara Teachers’ Association (SBTA) and Santa Barbara Unified School District have reached an agreement on working conditions related to the 2020/21 school year. 

The ability to reach agreement so quickly is a testament to the strong relationship between union leaders and the district. Key to the negotiations was a mutual commitment to ensure health and safety for all, while also putting the needs of students first.

“I’m proud of our work, and I can attest to the fact that we kept students at the center of our negotiations, while ensuring the health and safety of our employees,” said Santa Barbara Unified lead negotiator, Dr. John Becchio, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. “It is also important to note that at no time did either party bring forward any proposal for schools to remain closed in a distance learning model for the entire 20/21 school year, nor would Santa Barbara Unified ever agree to such terms.”

We will continue to follow guidance from Santa Barbara County Public Health as we begin the school year with distance learning, and keep our commitment to returning to in-person instruction as soon as health & safety conditions permit. 

The following items were agreed to:

  • Teachers will have the option of teaching from their classrooms as they implement rigorous distance learning.
  • Teachers agreed to repurpose a previously agreed upon March 1, 2021 non-student day and apply those hours for required professional learning prior to their August 13 return to work date. This is critically important to providing teachers time to prepare for distance learning instruction. 
  • Staff may be involved in some in-person services on campus, such as individualized assessments, family meetings and other one-on-one interactions as needed. All Health and safety guidelines will apply.
  • All teacher evaluation protocols remain in place as normal for the 20/21 school year.


“I am pleased with how quickly we were able to reach agreement with SBTA,” said Santa Barbara Unified Superintendent Hilda Maldonado. “The Governor announced his order for distance learning on July 17, and less than two weeks later, we wrapped up negotiations with the teacher’s union. That is rare, especially under these extraordinary circumstances.  Teachers agreeing to do required professional learning prior to their return date reaffirms to our community how incredibly dedicated they are and how important it is for us return to school as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Santa Barbara Teachers Association President Karen McBride said she was also pleased with the outcome of negotiations.

“Myriad certificated staff have voluntarily engaged in professional learning during the summer to enhance their skills around remote teaching and participated in meetings with principals and colleagues,” McBride said. “We are pleased that our bargaining unit members will have further opportunities provided by the District to continue this professional development in the weeks leading up to the opening of the school year. We all want our students to thrive academically and personally, whatever the learning conditions. We are thankful for the cooperative process we’ve had with District leaders in creating agreements that are focused on the delivery of quality education while keeping our community safe.  That has been our focus all along.  We miss seeing our students and truly look forward to when we can all be back on campuses safely.” 

Santa Barbara Unified Board President Laura Capps added: “We are all united in the strong belief that kids belong in the classroom. I hear daily from teachers who can’t wait to be back at school with their students — it’s why they chose their profession. It is my wish that this shared motivation will prove to be the powerful incentive our community needs to reverse our Covid-19 infection rates. Until then, I share in the gratitude that a distance learning agreement was made so quickly, demonstrating the strong commitment from our teachers and district leadership to make this incredibly tough challenge the best it can be for students. We are all in this together.” 


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  1. Glad to hear their commitment to getting kids back in school. However, none of the items agreed to are related to starting up school again. If the County is allowed to open and you see GUSD and Private schools opening, the SBUSD better follow suit or there will be hell to pay.

  2. I’m sorry12:26, you must not know the teachers and the teachers unions are two different entities – one actually cares about education (teachers); the other only about collecting teacher union dues and funding political campaigns (teacher unions). Our children will be much better served, once we get the teachers unions out of education.

  3. Is it any surprise that they wrapped up their “negotiations” in record time? It’s not a negotiation when both parties want the same thing – remote learning, all the way. The prevailing sentiment amongst teachers seems to be one of fear and unwillingness to step up if they don’t have to. And they don’t. Zoom learning has been an absolute failure, and will continue to be at the grammar school level as a whole. Love how the article mentions their great sacrifice in “repurposing” a whole single “non-student day” from their yearly schedule, to ramp up for remote learning. Really? Wow, hey pat yourselves on the back for that. Way to step up in an urgent situation people.
    Thanks for the article though. It’s important we hear what they’re up to. The more I learn the more disappointed I am with our local public school/district employees. We’ve been terribly let down by our local education system this far.

  4. 12:26 “they deserve to have their health and we’ll being considered”, you mean like the employees at Costco, Whole Foods, Target, Ralph’s, Lazy Acres, Ross, Vons, Albertsons, Gelson’s, Grocery Outlet, Lassens, Trader Joe’s, Smart and Final and everywhere else where you have person to person contact in this town? I’m sorry if people have been working in a grocery store or anywhere else coming in contact with hundreds of people a day and there have been ZERO outbreaks amongst employees then the teachers can have in person class. End of story.

  5. Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic time….The I.C.E. berg ahead is gonna be hard. Get ready when the police hit the ICE berg. We are gonna drop the POL and be left with ICE. My family avoided the ovens in 1940’s you all better think likewise. Canada or bust! Mi casa su casa!

  6. 420722 does not, apparently, understand a few things. First, food is essential. We cannot live without it. So yes, being able to eat is essential. Second, grocery stores were able to implement protections for their workers – masks, face shields, limiting the number of customers, increased cleaning, touchless pay, adding plastic barriers between the customers and the staff. Third: time of contact. What we know now about COVID is that spread is affected greatly by: location: being indoors, duration: >30 minutes in contact, distance: < 6 ft distance, masking: masks reduce the risk of spread, and ventilation. Teachers and school - can be done remotely. You cannot shop remotely, although a few stores do provide delivery or pick up. Most here do not. Our current classrooms do not have good ventilation, and they also do not have enough room to space students 6 ft apart. It is relatively easy to expect adults who are shopping to wear a mask and not touch their face. Less so for 5-10 year old children. And finally: in person class is not essential. A teacher's job can be done remotely, though it is not ideal. Regardless, the governor set the metrics for reopening schools in person. We don't meet them. In addition, the cost to reopen schools with the required protections in place will cost $10M for SBUnified. That is when we eventually pass the state metrics.

  7. Have you been sitting in on any of the school board meetings? They’ve all been virtual for awhile, obviously. If you had, you would likely understand that the district had planned on returning to in person school in August before the governor stated that it would not be allowed for any county on the watch list. In fact, that was mentioned in the most recent meeting – that they had to “immediately pivot to distance learning”.
    Now, the district had already been developing plans for 3 different options – full remote, hybrid, and fully in person. So at least they were not starting at square 1 in the planning. If you had sat in on any of the meetings, you would realize that the district staff and the teachers overwhelmingly want to get back to the classroom – but SAFELY. Nobody loves zoom learning (except maybe my teenager). It frankly SUCKS for the lower elementary grades – no doubt about it. It’s hard to get kids that age to pay attention in class, much less on a screen.
    I recommend, if you are in SBUnified district, that you sit in on the zoom school district meetings. It’s definitely the way to be informed. And by the way, the district polled parents (twice) on whether they thought it was safe to go back and what their choices were, and it was pretty evenly split. 37% fully remote/ 37% hybrid/ 26% fully open.

  8. Remote learning is required for SB county by the governor. These negotiations were over how to handle it and the working conditions and expectations for teachers.
    Repurposing the non-student day was a way to have teachers be paid for the some of the work that is expected of them. The number of working days in the contract remained the same but now teachers will begin paid work earlier than the original contract start date of August 13 (and won’t get their first paycheck until September 30, but that’s another story).
    The agreement between the district and the union also states that teachers will be given 4 hours of paid time to plan with fellow teachers before school starts. Realistically, I and a lot of other teachers will spend more like 4 days doing this work, most of it unpaid. The rest of our paid time before the start of school will be taken up by mandatory meetings and trainings, including some about supporting social-emotional learning and ways to support “emerging multilingual learners” (students whose first language is something besides English and who are still working towards English proficiency while receiving instruction in English).
    A lot of teachers are stepping up, but there is a lot of hard work to be done behind the scenes and we want to be compensated for the work we put in. We shouldn’t be expected to work for free and neither should anyone else.
    However, I agree that the district administration spends too much time congratulating themselves for everything they do, even when their actions are insufficient or of questionable benefit.

  9. We have an election coming up in November and have a chance to get the incumbents out!
    Support candidates not backed by political party or teachers union. Their endorsements say it all, run the other way ! Why would you vote a board member in that was backed by the same people they are negotiating with that will just go into negotiations and give them exactly what they want regardless of the budget or other priorities that serve the student’s best interest.
    This school board has failed us their whole term by turning a blind eye to the test scores of our schools that are terrible in reading and math.

  10. I’m curious if you have been doing any kind of deep dive on test score data? I have, actually, for a few years now. I’ve collected the CAASPP scores for a large number of local schools (elementary and up) by school, year, grade. (since about 2015/2016) I’ve also broken it down by math and ELA scores. If you’ve done this, you will realize that it is NOT easy and basically requires hand-entering every data point.
    What I found, once the data was entered, is that across the board our schools tests scores are increasing in both ELA and math. This is true for almost every school, subject, and year. (Every once in awhile, there’s a down year for one grade and one subject). The scores are going up for a particular “graduation year” at a particular school. The scores are ALSO going up for a particular grade WITHIN a particular school. (For example, the fourth graders at school X are scoring better than the fourth graders at school X scored last year.)
    TLDR, across the board test score improvements. You have to look at test SCORES and how they are improving year over year.

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