PLEASANTON -- The school board and the teachers association have agreed to a new contract just weeks before their previous deal was set to expire.
The five-member board on Tuesday approved the three-year deal, which begins July 1 and expires in 2016, said Bill Faraghan, Pleasanton's assistant superintendent of human resources. The Association of Pleasanton Teachers, representing the district's 700 instructors, ratified the agreement earlier this month.
"I'm pleased that we were able to reach a mutually sensible agreement," Faraghan said.
The deal's terms include teachers receiving a one-time 1-percent bonus during the 2013-14 school year, that will cost the district $685,000. Also, teachers with at least 20 years of teaching experience will receive a $955 increase in annual salary.
The annual stipend for employees possessing master degrees, doctorates or a National Board Certification teaching credential will rise from $500 to $750.
"That stipend is very common in school districts," Faraghan said. "It's given with the idea that, by taking those classes, you have increased your learning and effectiveness as a teacher."
Also, teachers can participate in a "catastrophic leave program," in which employees can donate a day of their sick leave to a community bank. Employees suffering health problems that force them to use all of their sick leave then can use those extra days donated by colleagues, Faraghan said.
With the goal of limiting the district's future costs, the new contract includes a cap on retiree benefits for new employees. In 2014, the school district will switch to CalPERS, a state program, to provide retirement and health benefits to workers. The move will cost the district between $400,000 and $500,000 per year. District officials say the switch is worth it because it will provide stability in rate prices and in overall coverage, which are lacking in the district's current slate of health care providers.
The contract will be closed until 2014-15, when both the district and the teachers union can unilaterallly re-open talks about salaries or on any issue that both sides mutually agree to discuss, Faraghan said.
Peggy Carpenter, the teachers association president, said workers have made many sacrifices to help the district during budget woes, and that it will take a long time before teachers' salaries and benefits are restored to pre-recession levels. But she noted that the improving economy has created a better fiscal environment.
"It's really nice to be in this position, where we're hiring new people and not handing out pink slips," she said during Tuesday's meeting. Carpenter, a teacher since 1971 and a Pleasanton employee for about a decade, said recent talks were free of the strife that plagued negotiations in the 1980s.
"Even though there were different interests involved, there was always a positive interaction," she said. "I appreciate that each party was trying to find what it would take to help everyone move forward, not backward."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.