San Mateo-Foster City teachers, district reach deal 

The night before a fact-finding report was due out, bargaining teams for the San Mateo Elementary Teachers Association and San Mateo-Foster City School District reached a tentative agreement, averting a strike and settling more than a year of animosity.

"We’re delighted to have reached an agreement, and we really appreciate all the work of the two bargaining teams," Assistant Superintendent Joan Rosas said.

The three-year contract —announced Thursday afternoon — includes a 6.25 percent increase for the 2006-07 school year, another 2 percent increase for the 2007-08 year and an additional 1 percent increase at midyear.

Increases in 2008-09 will be generated by a formula tied to state school funding.

"By the end of this school year, the total increase will be 9.25 percent, and after next year, with the estimated cost-of-living adjustment, we think we’ll be close to 11 percent," SMETA President Carole Delgado said.

And although the salary increases are a considerable step toward attracting and encouraging teachers to the district, Delgado said one of the best sections of the agreement is language dictating the formation of two subcommittees to handle concerns of class sizes, special education, and peer assistance and review.

The one section of the settlement SMETA had wanted and was unable to obtain was health benefits for family members, but they were guaranteed a "floating cap," to cover increasing insurance premiums automatically.

Delgado said SMETA had been taking informal polls during the negotiations and found 84 percent of the almost600 members were ready — but not excited — to strike if a settlement was not reached.

"We’re pleased with this, we’re very pleased," she said. "It’s a huge relief for our members; a negotiated settlement is always better than an imposed decision."

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