DANVILLE -- San Ramon Valley school district teachers haven't gotten pay increases for the past seven years -- but this year, they'll get a 4 percent salary increase.
The school district and its teachers' union, the San Ramon Valley Education Association, announced that they have finalized an agreement retroactive to Jan. 1 for the 2013-14 school year that would include a salary increase of 4 percent for its nearly 1,600 teachers, nurses, psychologists, counselors, librarians and speech pathologists.
The agreement was ratified by the association's membership on March 11 and approved that same evening by the school board. The district will pay $2.3 million more in compensation this year as a result, district officials said.
"We are extremely fortunate to have an incredible teaching staff in our district, and the new agreement will help us to remain competitive in recruiting and retaining great teachers," Superintendent Mary Shelton said in a statement.
"It's been a long drought for our employees who work hard every day on behalf of the children," she said.
Last year, the district gave employees a one-time payment of 4 percent of their salary, after it ended up with a budget surplus at the year's end. But this year's agreement reflects an increase in salary schedules, which hasn't happened since the 2007-08 school year, said school district spokesman Terry Koehne.
"During the last seven years, not only did we not see salary increases, but there were a couple of years that teachers had to take furlough days and days without pay," Koehne said. "They did their part to help the district sustain itself in those tough budget years."
The district's budget has transformed from yearly shortfalls to a surplus, due to an improving state economy, he explained. Also, the new formula adopted in California for deciding how much money each school district gets, called the Local Control Funding Formula, is bringing increased revenue from the state, he said.
San Ramon Valley Education Association President Ann Katzburg said that the past seven years have been difficult times for everyone but that the agreement is "official" now.
"We are so grateful that the financial situation has improved for education," she said. "We worked really hard to achieve it. Our members are thrilled. I've gotten a lot of emails, and people are really grateful."
San Ramon Valley also is one of the first school districts in the East Bay to announce such salary increases, she said. The district's three other employee unions are still in negotiations, but since the teachers' union's negotiations usually set the bar for the rest of the district's collective bargaining units, they likely will receive similar increases from the district this year, too, she said.
"We are thrilled to see the financial tide beginning to change," she said.
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/JoyceTsaiNews.