After rounds of mediation, forced by deadlocked negotiations between Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District and its teachers union, an agreement has been reached and its expected approval is scheduled for the next school board meeting June 15.
The Bass Lake Teachers Association (BLTA) sought a 5% raise with a two-year contract for several months, while the district offered 4%, as well as a bonus and condensed salary schedule it said was equivalent to an additional 1.4%.
Both sides were forced to mediate as they couldn’t agree on the 1% difference, a gap of about $34,000 when based on teacher salaries of $3.38 million in the approved 2015-2016 operating budget.
June 1, the BLTA, with about 45 members, voted to ratify their approval of the district’s offer. However, it will apply only to a one-year contract, with negotiations set to return next year.
Representative Tim McGrew, a seventh grade teacher at Oak Creek Intermediate, said the union’s decision was a step in the right direction.
“This was taking up a lot of our time and energy,” McGrew said. “And we wanted to make sure our focus is on the students, so we decided it’d be the best thing for us to focus on them by moving forward with this contract.”
District Superintendent Glenn Reid agreed.
“We are thrilled we have reached an agreement with our teachers, and we look forward to moving forward with our students and staff into the 2016-2017 school year,” Reid said.
The raises are expected to be approved at the next school board meeting June 15, as they are in line with the district’s offer and several district officials, including Reid and director of business services Maureen Hester, participated in negotiations.
Another contention by BLTA is that the district’s fiscal patterns have remained overly conservative since deep budget cuts largely in the 2010-2011 school year.
The BLTA claims the district cut classroom aides and some teaching materials in response to the national economic recession, and has yet to return those services despite being in a more stable fiscal condition.
The district instead contends it’s best to keep a larger reserve in case of another recession, and it doesn’t wish to spend itself into a potential fiscal crisis.
McGrew said those disputes aren’t related to salary negotiations, but they remain a priority for the union.
Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District contains Oakhurst Elementary School, Wasuma Elementary School, Oak Creek Intermediate, and Fresno Flats Day School.