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South Bay Union School District has reached a two-year Tentative Agreement with our classified union, the California School Employees Association (CSEA), Chapter 59

Mar 18, 2016 08:29AM ● By Paul Spear

Superintendent McNamara’s Column – March 2016

Dear Community Members,

We are pleased to report that South Bay Union School District has reached a two-year Tentative Agreement with our classified union, the California School Employees Association (CSEA), Chapter 59.  However, our negotiations with our teacher’s union continue.

You may have noticed some union activities on public property (not on school grounds) related to the negotiations with our teacher’s union, the Southwest Teachers Association (SWTA).  We are committed to keeping our community informed about this process.  The following is a letter that was sent home to parents this week.

Our negotiations with SWTA began in April 2015, and the teams met ten times.  Unfortunately, we were unable to reach agreement on several important issues, and on January 27, 2016, the District declared Impasse, which signified that the negotiations process was stalled, and allowed for a state-appointed mediator to work with both the District and SWTA toward a mutually agreeable settlement. The mediator met with us for the first time on March 3, 2016. Typically, mediation requires multiple sessions, and the process can be lengthy or quick, depending on the issues at hand. Our next mediation session is scheduled for April 8, 2016.  While we are hopeful that an agreement will be reached at our next meeting, there are many factors at play in a struggle over how to spend the limited resources we have.  Below are the primary issues on which we have not reached agreement:


·         Wages.  Last year, all employees received a 4% salary increase. Prior to mediation, the District made four different proposals, including a 3.5% salary increase and additional steps on the teacher’s salary schedule. This proposal would increase the maximum SBUSD certificated teacher salary, with these steps, to $93,865 from the current $86,579.  This represents a significant increase in lifetime and retirement earnings.  In addition to salary, employee compensation also includes health benefits.  Presently, the District pays benefits worth $12,000 per eligible staff member. On the proposed revised salary schedule, total compensation (salary and benefits) for a beginning teacher would be $54,753, an average salary would be $89,768, and the highest certificated teacher step would be $105,865. Prior to mediation, SWTA had made no movement since their initial wage proposal of an 8% salary increase, an ongoing cost impact that is simply not available or sustainable at this time particularly with the additional requests.

Certificated staff/teachers are placed on a salary schedule, based on a variety of criteria including education and days/years of service, among others.  Teacher’s salaries are annually adjusted as they move down the steps and across the columns of the salary schedule.  Nearly half of our certificated employees routinely receive these increases that range between 2.1%-4.5%, in addition to negotiated salary increases (as articulated in the paragraph above, the 4% and 3.5%). 

·         Class Size.  Our current agreement with SWTA requires the average TK-3 classroom to be 25 students to one teacher (25:1) and the average 4-8 classroom to be 32:1.  Funds from the state are being increasingly allocated with a goal in the year 2020 for TK-3 class averages to be 24:1. Currently the average class size for Transitional Kindergarten through third grade students in SBUSD is even lower than the SWTA agreement and the state target – at 23.8. The average for students in grades four through six is 30.5 and 31.3 for grades seven and eight.  There are no state target for these grade levels. State funds for class size reduction cannot be used for salaries.

·         Other.  SWTA has also made proposals related to increased counseling support, Nurse staffing, and structured planning/preparation time for teachers.

Counseling Support:  This year the District hired three new School Psychologists for a total of 13 for our 12 schools.  Adding three additional psychologists allowed us to provide approximately one NEW day each week of support to every school. This support is required to be for individual and small group counseling for both students and families.

Nurse staff:  South Bay currently funds five full-time Nurses. The nurse to student ratio is well below the nurse to student ratio of our neighboring districts.  In addition, the District also employs a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) and a Health Clerk to support our Nursing team. 

Planning time:  While the teams are not far apart in their proposals for teachers to have unstructured personal planning time during their work day, the District must balance this request for increased time with the needs for collaborative planning.  

Our goal is to keep you informed throughout this difficult period.  We will provide ongoing updates on our website and have devoted a page dedicated to negotiations on our Website (  I welcome your questions and comments and share your commitment to our children’s education.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call your school principal or my office.  I can be reached by email at or by phone at (619) 628-1605.  Thank you for your patience during this time.




Katie McNamara, Ed.D.

District Superintendent


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