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Orcutt School District, Teachers Reach Agreement on New Contract

With the help of mediators, the Orcutt Union School District and its teachers union have settled their contract dispute, reaching agreement on a new pact that includes pay hikes, one-time bonuses and reduced class sizes for lower grades.

The terms of the agreement reportedly will go to the Orcutt Union School District board of trustees for approval in May.

Members of the Orcutt Educators Association are expected to vote on whether to ratify the pact on Tuesday.

The deal was reached Wednesday during mediation after negotiations earlier reached an impasse.

“We’re really happy with our settlement,” said Monique Segura, president of Orcutt Educators Association.

“Overall, the district wants you to know this agreement is fair and benefits the community as a whole,” according to an Orcutt Union School District statement announcing the settlement.

Under the deal, association members will receive a 6-percent salary increase that will be permanent and added to their base salary. 

In addition to the recently approved boost of 4 percent, both sides previously agreed to a temporary pay hike of 2 percent in exchange for additional teacher collaboration time designed to increase student learning.

The collaboration time will become permanent under the new agreement.

“In exchange for making the additional work designed to benefit our students permanent, the temporary 2-percent compensation for that additional work is also made permanent, and added to the salary schedule,” district officials said in a written statement.

Members of the Orcutt Educators Association also will receive a one-time bonus of 2 percent for the 2015-16 school year.

District officials said state supplemental funding will provide money for the additional increases beyond the 3 percent originally offered. 

“This funding is provided to support services and additional work aimed at increasing student learning,” the district statement said. “The one-time bonus was funded through one-time money that the district received this year.

"These funds could only be used for one time expenditures such as technology, equipment, facilities improvements, instructional materials, classroom supplies, and one-time bonus payments.”

The deal is retroactive to last July 1, Segura said.

Terms of the new agreement also call for the district to reduce class sizes for transitional kindergarten through third grades to 27 students per class, beginning in the 2017-18 school year. 

The district and teachers union have agreed to a collective bargaining agreement that will be in effect for three years.

“While some terms of the agreement will be negotiated each year, known as reopeners, this 3-year agreement helps both the district and the association, as well as the community at large, with the stability of a longer term contract,” the district statement said.

Compensation is one item both sides will discuss in those future negotiations, Segura said.

Prior to the settlement, Orcutt Educators Association representatives said a 10-year teacher with the district makes approximately $10,000 less than a Santa Maria-Bonita School District instructor with the same experience

Although the union has reached a settlement, Segura said members and their counterparts in the Santa-Maria Elementary Education Association will continue to wear buttons bearing the word “Respect” to show solidarity with Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Faculty Association. 

The high school district and its teachers also reached an impasse in negotiations, with a fact-finding session expected next month after mediation efforts were unsuccessful. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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