Teachers in the San Diego Unified School District overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract with the district. The majority of voting teachers, 97% of them, ratified the contract which addresses the district's needs to cut costs but puts a cap on class sizes.
Teachers agreed to five unpaid furlough days which will shorten the school year by one week for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. Co-pays under healthcare plans will go up which cuts healthcare costs for the district.
In exchange, the teachers will receive a reinstatement of the furloughed days in 2012-2013. and salary increase of 7% in that same year. Nurses and counseling staff levels will be protected and class sizes will be capped at 36 students per teacher.
"That's part of the exchange. We're willing to dig out of our pockets if we can ensure that there's adequate staffing and adequate time for teachers and staff to interact," said Camille Zombro, President of the San Diego Education Association. Zombro said without the cap, class sizes could have risen to 40 to 50 children per class.
The district will have until the third year of the contract to comply with the cap.
Zombro hopes the new contract will prevent the need for teacher layoffs in the district.
"With hundreds of people retiring or leaving the district for a variety of reasons every year, the number that they're looking at lowering can be accomplished within natural attrition," she said.