Teachers union back to bargaining 

Teachers and officials with the Jefferson Elementary School District will return to the negotiating table to hammer out salary hike proposals for 2007-08, only half a year after the district averted a strike by reaching an agreement for the previous fiscal year.

Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers, which includes approximately 300 teachers in Daly City, Colma, Pacifica and Broadmoor Village, is asking for a 10 percent salary increase for 2007-08. The union says the double digit increase will allow teachers to cope with the high cost of living. Meanwhile, the district’s California School Employee Association chapter, which represents cafeteria workers and carpenters, is asking for a 19 percent raise.

"The proposal was written to make up for the money we lost in the last five years," CSEA president Kathy Shaddox said, referring to the salary freeze between 2001 and 2006 caused by the district’s $15 million deficit.

The district is countering with a 4 percent salary increase for school staff represented by CSEA, but has not yet released a response to the teachers’ request. The district will present both its response to the CSEA proposal and the teachers union proposal during public hearing tonight.

The 4 percent increase will cost the district $1.2 million per year, said Enrique Navas, assistant superintendent and chief business officer. Navas said the budget for the 2007-08 will be $50.5 million.

Both the district and the unions, which received a 3 percent raise for 2006-07 and a $50 increase per month in employee medical contributions through 2009, hope that leasing some of the district’s empty schools and land parcels will help pay for salary increases.

"We’ve been hit by the decline in educational funding and we’ve suffered through some difficult years," said Melinda Dart, president of the teachers union. "As our district managed to invest our resources, we’re hoping they’ll be able to devote more revenue to employee salaries."

By spring, Jefferson Elementary is hoping to lease two of its former schools, a portion of Daniel Webster elementary school and a part of the district’s maintenance yard in Daly City. Navas could not say how much the district is expected to reap in funds from the leases.

Although the district looks forward to revenue from leased properties, it is also keeping an eye on state funding that may decrease in 2008 because of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget cuts, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Matteo Rizzo said.

"If the state says there is a $10 million deficit, many school districts will be in trouble," Rizzo said.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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