On Tuesday, teachers in the Alpine Union School District were back in the classroom after going on strike last Thursday. A deal between the teachers union and the school board was reached overnight. So are teachers and parents happy with the outcome? NBC 7’s Vanessa Herrera reports.
The Alpine teachers strike ended early Tuesday after an agreement was reached overnight according to Superintendent Tom Pellegrino.
The teachers association voted on the proposal at a 7:30 a.m. meeting and agreed to the terms.
They say they are happy with the agreement and feel like the district listened to them. They are also happy to get back to their students today.
The superintendent said that once the deal was ratified, teachers would return to the classroom.
Teachers in Alpine walked off the job last Thursday to protest pay and benefit cuts.
The school board recently approved a 7.85 percent salary cut and an $8,000 cap on health benefit contributions, which went into effect Jan. 1.
Under the agreement that begins April 1, teacher salaries will be cut by 5.5-percent, not by 7.5-percent as originally proposed.
The healthcare cap will be $9,500, not the original $8,000 suggested when the teachers first went on strike.
If the state of California passes a restoration gap of 28-percent on July 1, teachers could get another 2-percent back from their salary cut. If the gap is larger, teachers would see a one-percent pay increase for every 3-percent restored in funding.
In addition, teachers will receive two paid professional development days.
Kindergarten teacher Wendy Yoshinaga said she was happy to return to work. "The community stood behind us and we appreciate that so much," Yoshinaga said.
Parent Jeanette McWilliams said her daughter will be relieved to have her teacher back in the classroom.
"I am so happy it's over. My daughter has missed these teachers so much. We're so excited they're back," McWilliams said.
The agreement will last until the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
The superintendent had argued that the teachers’ demands would bankrupt the district.
Pellegrino said the board was able to be flexible with budget to give teachers what they needed without risking a “financial meltdown.”
Now he said the staff must get back to the business of educating students.
"Any time parents feel like their children are caught in the middle of something, then we've got to prove ourselves again," Pellegrino said. "From the top on down we've got to prove we have complete focus on students and on learning."
This was the first teachers strike in San Diego County since 1996.