In light of proposed state budget cuts, tentatively agreed upon raises for teachers in three Contra Costa County school districts have been put on hold until the districts show they can afford them.

The Contra Costa County Office of Education, which checks to make sure districts can afford raises before they're approved, has asked the San Ramon Valley, Oakley and Acalanes school districts to resubmit post-raise budget estimates in light of cuts Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed last week, said spokeswoman Peggy Marshburn. School districts must show the county they can meet their financial obligations, raises included, for the current year and two years after that.

Marshburn said her office was reviewing tentative agreements the three districts each had with at least one group of employees. Districts that have not made tentative agreements have been told to consider the proposed cuts -- which affect each district differently -- when they send in their tentative agreements.

Districts that already have finalized raises-- West Contra Costa, Byron, Canyon, John Swett, Moraga and Walnut Creek -- are not affected.

The San Ramon Valley school board had been scheduled to vote at Tuesday's meeting on a 3.3 percent overall salary schedule raise for 2007-08 with the San Ramon Valley Education Association. This raise has no bearing on the increases teachers receive by moving up the salary schedule based on years worked; currently, first-year credentialed teachers get $43,378. A teacher at the top of the scale -- one with 25 years' experience and considerable professional development -- gets $82,062. Employees with a master's degree get a $2,226 stipend.

The district covers employees and their families for Kaiser Permanente health coverage, as well as a portion of other, more expensive plans, San Ramon Valley district spokesman Terry Koehne said. That averages out to $10,544 per employee.

"We are extremely disappointed the district was not able to approve this," said San Ramon Valley association President Mary Jane Keogh. "The governor's proposal is going to devastate education."

Keogh said it is possible San Ramon Valley teachers will end up with a lower raise, but she is hopeful the agreement will remain. She said the district and union have a good working relationship.

Koehne said it's hard to say whether the district will keep the proposed raise, but the district will have to see about spending less somewhere.

"It's awful," Koehne said of the cuts. "It's too early right now to say what this is going to mean, but I think it's safe to say reductions are in the making. Everything's up in the air right now."

Teachers in the Acalanes Union High School District were expecting a 3 percent raise Jan. 31, with 1.5 percent of that raise applying retroactively to the first part of the school year, said Lori Tewksbury, president of the district's teachers union.

The contract would have been up for approval by the school board Wednesday night.

"We have to go back to the table and start negotiating again, which is not something we were expecting to have to do for a while," Tewksbury said.

The Acalanes district has never faced this situation before, Tewksbury said, so she can't predict how negotiations will proceed in the coming weeks and months.

"It wasn't like (Acalanes') deal was a fabulous deal to begin with," Tewksbury said. "We were satisfied with it, but we weren't happy with it."

Koehne, whose district was budgeted to spend $206.1 million this year before the proposed teachers raise, is looking at a $7 million to $8 million deficit for the next year. That's due to $3 million less in general student funding and $1 million to $1.5 million in categorical program funding, particularly special education. The district also is expected to see a $3 million to $3.5 million rise in operational costs they can't control -- such as employees moving up the salary schedule based on years worked, benefits and utilities. Separately, the district also is looking to cut $700,000 from planned spending for this year.

The teachers' raise would have added about $3 million in costs -- $2.9 million in salaries and about $111,000 in added taxes, Medicare, unemployment and other taxes, Koehne said. The district had overbudgeted benefits by about $300,000.

Staff writer Paul Thissen contributed to this report. Eric Louie covers education. Reach him at 925-847-2123 or elouie@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Past SRVUSD pay raises

1997-98 5.25%

1998-99 4%

1999-2000 3%

2000-01 10%

2001-02 2%

2002-03 1.8%

2003-04 0%

2004-05 3.4%

2005-06 5%

2006-07 8.3%