SCTA, SCUSD Make Agreements, Strike Averted

By Christopher Wong, Chief Editor

After noticing a Clarion photographer, JFK office technician Estela Brown displays her sign to show her commitment to making SCUSD an appealing district for teachers. (Photo by Chris Wong)

After over a year of negotiations beginning in October of last year, the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) strike has been avoided due to both parties finally reaching contract agreements. The agreement was announced by mayor Darrell Steinberg and the SCTA.

The raises agreed upon total 11 percent over the three-year length of the contract. The deal will retroactively raise salaries by 2.5 percent from July 1 of last year and another 2.5 percent of the same date this year. Thirdly, raises will be increased another 2.5 percent on the same date the following year, 2018, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.

In order to entice teachers in the middle of the pay grade, a 3.5 percent increase to salaries will take effect with the previously stated future raise on July 1, 2018.

Both parties agreed to seek ways to save the district money in the future to move towards the goals of lowering class sizes, funding arts and music, hiring school nurses and psychologists, and improving Special Education programs.

The two involved parties will collectively negotiate with SCUSD health care providers to ease costs and free money to be put towards the aforementioned goals. JFK Latin teacher Damian Harmony told the Clarion that he was informed up to $15 million could be saved from reducing healthcare costs but noted that the number could be an overestimation.

All money saved from cutting healthcare costs must be put towards meeting specific staffing and class size goals. Core secondary school classes (English, math, science, social science) would have to be reduced to 28 students per teacher using money saved. Other classes (arts, foreign language, etc.) would remain at a ratio of 35 students per teacher.

Other faculty to student ratios included in the agreements include one nurse for every 750 students, one psychologist for every 1,000 students, and a librarian for every secondary school.

The SCTA, SCUSD, and Mayor Darrell Steinberg plan to jointly support a measure on the 2020 ballot for a parcel tax that will collect ongoing funding for art and music programs.

The provisions of the agreement will begin to benefit students in the coming year through the hiring of more credentialed teachers.

“We’re able to actually offer competitive salaries, so we can actually hire more teachers. Students who have long term subs might actually get real teachers, real credentialed teachers,” Harmony explained.

While students will still have to wait for full-time staff to heal physical wounds, Steinberg sought for the new agreement to symbolize the injuries of the long negotiations process being mended.

“Let this be the beginning of a new partnership to put old wounds behind, and together, make Sacramento City Unified School District, the best district in the state of California, Steinberg said, as reported by KCRA 3.

New superintendent Jorge Aguilar hopes for the road ahead to be smooth with these monumental first steps.

“The agreement signals our understanding that we have to deal with this debt and other significant costs, and that we are going to do it together,” Aguilar said, also reported by KCRA 3.

Ricardo Yanez, a junior at Kennedy found out in his fifth period chemistry class that the strike was called off.

“Everyone was surprised and upset because they thought they have Wednesday and Thursday off and Friday will be a day off,” Yanez described. Yanez said that he was looking to use the days off to get caught up on his duties.

“I was trying to finish some work I needed to do for my neighbor. I needed to cut some branches from a tree.”

Harmony advocates for students to be involved with political matters such as the averted teacher strike because events like this have the chance to impact the rest of their lives.

“I care because i’m investing in [students’] futures…Once they realize, ‘my future is mine,’ then they’ll start to care a lot more. When you realize you got skin in the game, you actually start to play the game.”

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