Berkeley teachers protest
A teacher protest on the steps of Old City Hall last May over the then-stalled contract negotiations. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Berkeley Unified School District and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers have reached tentative agreement on a 2013-2015 contract, subject to ratification by the school board and the BFT. Agreement seven months into the school year is rapid compared to some recent contract negotiations.

In the agreement, all teacher wages, including salaries, stipends, daily rates and hourly rates, will be adjusted to reflect a 1.5% increase backdated to July 1, 2013, and an additional one-time bonus payment equal to 2.0% of the teacher’s 2013-2014 salary. Each teacher will also receive a 2.0% increase effective July 1 this year. 

Other areas covered in the agreement include the approval of two years of the school calendars, and an increase in instructional minutes for students in grades 6 through 8 by 20 minutes per day, from the current 305 minutes to 325 minutes.

“Reaching a mutually agreeable contract with BFT is the first step towards what I hope will be successful agreements with all of our unions, and I hope to be able to make that announcement soon,” said BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans in a statement announcing the tentative agreement.

“This contract furthers the process of beginning to restore compensation after the Great Recession and deep cuts to education funding in California,” said Cathy Campbell, BFT President, in the same statement. “With teachers working incredibly hard to implement the new Common Core Standards this contract will provide a needed morale boost and help teachers to focus on the core tasks of teaching, learning and continuous professional improvement.”

“We’re all working for the same thing here — the best possible education for our students,” said board president Josh Daniels in the statement. “On behalf of the entire board, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who negotiated, on both sides of the table, to reach this positive agreement.”

Last May, the district and the teachers reached agreement on the 2012-2013 contract, two weeks before the end of the school year. That agreement ended years of stasis: the teachers had been working under an extension of a July 2008 agreement, which was intended to last two years. Both the teachers union and the BUSD agreed to extensions with no salary increases during the worst of the economic recession.

Berkeley teachers, district agree on 2.5% wage increase (05.31.13)
Berkeley teachers’ bonus plan rebuffed by district (03.07.13)
Portraits: Berkeley school gardening and cooking educators (05.29.13)
Berkeley appoints Donald Evans as new Schools Superintendent (05.22.13)

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...