The Jefferson Elementary School District is giving teachers their first raise in five years, but it's also asking them to do more work.
Under the agreement, teachers will receive a 6 percent pay raise, in addition to help covering health insurance costs for their dependents.
However, teachers will also be dealing with increased class sizes, which are being aligned with limits established by the state. Under the new agreement, maximum class size for kindergarten through third grade will increase from 20 to 24. Grades four through eight will ideally remain at a maximum average class size of 32, but may be larger if necessary.
The agreement was recently ratified by the teachers union and is expected to be approved at the next school board meeting Sept. 11.
District Superintendent Bernie Vidales said the district recognized the importance of being able to retain good teachers, but had been unable to make a commitment until after the state passed its budget in June. He said negotiations with the American Federation of Teachers Local 3267, which represents the teachers, had been amicable.
"We wanted to end up in a place where we were able to compensate our employees fairly," Vidales said. "Our teachers are not among the highest-compensated teachers in the region."
Vidales said the district — which serves Daly City, Colma and parts of Pacifica — is not well-funded. He said other districts in the county, which serve communities with stronger tax bases, receive as much as $15,000 to $20,000 per student per year. His district, on the other hand, received as little as $5,700 for some students last year.
The district will be receiving more money from the state in the coming years under a new funding scheme that provides additional funds for low-income students or English learners.
AFT Local 3267 President Melinda Dart said that over the past five years, some teachers had received modest increases based on longevity and education, but most salaries had stayed flat.
According to the district's current salary schedule, annual salaries for fiscal year 2012-13 started at $42,429 and were capped at $70,374 for teachers with 28 years of service under their belts. Teachers with master's degrees earned slightly more. Dart said that in better-funded districts, salaries tend to top out at $80,000 to $90,000.
Dart said the pay raise was made possible, in part, by the passage of Proposition 30, the tax increase that voters approved in 2012 in order to prevent $6 billion in budget cuts to California schools. However, she said, the teachers did not take it for granted that their salaries would rise.
"We initially didn't think we were going to get a raise," Dart said. "We had some very full board meetings."