The Tehachapi Unified School District and its teachers' association have reached a new collective bargaining agreement, along with a temporary Memorandum of Understanding, that will result in the reduction of time teachers will be in their classrooms during the 2012-14 school years.
Ratified by the required majority of teachers on Oct. 18, the district board of trustees unanimously approved permanent changes to the agreement as well as its accompanying MOU, at its meeting on Oct. 23. In part the agreement is aimed at recognizing the potential impact in the case voters do not approve Prop. 30 next week.
If Prop. 30 fails to be passed by California voters on Nov. 6, the decreases in the district's state funding could begin to take effect as early as Dec. 15, said Nick Heinlein, Chief Administrator of Business Services, who also presented to the board the adoption budget for the current school year later in the evening.
Outlined in the MOU is contingency language, some of which if triggered by Prop. 30's demise, would initiate a graduated scale of concessions based on the degree of lost state revenue.
Among those however, regardless of the outcome of Prop. 30, is the requirement that employees must take two furlough days this year and two furlough days during the 2013-2014 school year.
This action, according to Superintendent Lisa Gilbert, was taken to solve the problem of the district's failure to meet its required fiscal obligations, plus keep a three-percent reserve for 2012 as well as the next two years.
"In order to accomplish this, we are having to consider significant cost-cutting measures, which includes the possibility of furlough days," she said.
In addition to the four, there is also language that allows for more furlough days (up to 16 additional, for a total maximum of 18 per year) to be taken based on a formula of potentially reduced funding in the future. Much, but not all of that, depends on what happens with Prop. 30.
"If Prop. 30 does not pass, and the anticipated cuts occur as they are currently projected," Gilbert said. "The loss of learning time would be a tragedy."
The anticipated cuts for the district is equal to about $439 per student, which totals about $1.9 million dollars.
However, a poll released late last week by Reason-Rupe, shows California voters still favoring the Prop 30 by a 50/46 margin. So, there is also language in the MOU to restore concessions, hence, reducing the number of furlough days if money returns to the district.
Other contractual changes include modifications in duration of teacher lunch periods, summer notification of teacher assignment changes, Special Ed Pre-School teacher's start time and end times and class sizes and the computations the district will use to calculate them.
The district's goal will be to maintain the average of number of students per teacher at or below 30 for grades K-12 and 23 for continuation high school, with the exception of 50 students per physical education class in grades 9-12 and a cap of 45 P.E. students in grades 7-8.
There is also an entire section of the MOU that addresses balancing of classes at each site and grade level balancing among schools, as well as changes regarding teacher committees and the district's master schedule.
Final modifications are aimed at reducing the number of staff meetings from two per month to 15 per year, as well as requiring all K-5 teachers to make efforts to conduct parent conferences for all of their students at risk of failing during parent conference week.
Something Trustee Leonard Evansic voiced his concern over the agreement.
"I am just beside myself how we have gotten to this point," he told the board. "It was fine when we projected a pattern for furlough days, but I think professional development is important for educators to do the best job that they can with our students. And that includes education planning."