San Lorenzo Unified teachers, staff win 20% raise

SAN LORENZO, Calif. — The San Lorenzo Unified School District has approved significant pay increases for its teachers and staff, which are expected to close the compensation gap with neighboring districts and aid in recruitment and retention efforts.

The district’s Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved the collective bargaining agreements with the San Lorenzo Education Association and California School Employees Association, which include 20% increases in base salaries for teachers, nurses, paraeducators, office assistants and other staff over the next two years. The district has also reached a tentative agreement with the Service Employees International Union, which will be on the agenda at a future meeting.

Karen Rosa, president of the San Lorenzo Education Association, called the deal “the highest negotiated compensation increase in the Bay Area” and “the beginning of getting us back on track with having competitive compensation in Alameda County and the Bay Area as a whole.” The unions had been advocating for higher wages for years, and worked with the California Teachers Association to show that San Lorenzo’s teacher compensation increases were lagging behind inflation and other districts in the county.

Effective immediately, there will be a 15% pay increase for all union members, which will be retroactive to the start of the school year. In the upcoming fiscal year, CSEA members are set to receive an additional 5% increase and SLEA members a 4% increase. SLEA’s contract also includes an increase in the district’s contribution to the union members’ health benefits, which is equivalent to a 1% salary increase. Cash-in-lieu of health insurance will go up to $5,900, and the district will contribute $7,500 per year for single employees’ health benefits, $8,000 per year for employees with one family member, and $9,000 for employees with two or more family members.

Janell Hampton, staff labor representative from the California School Employees Association, said it was important to keep in mind that the reason such a large compensation increase was necessary was because of 10 years of substandard or no pay increases.

“We’re getting there, toward the median, but we’re not quite there yet,” Hampton said.

Over the past decade, San Lorenzo had the smallest compensation increase at 16%, resulting in a starting salary of $60,268 a year for teachers, the lowest in the county. In contrast, San Leandro Unified and Hayward Unified saw increases of about 41%, with starting salaries of $77,175 and $75,517, respectively, while New Haven Unified School District had the highest starting salary at $83,581. San Lorenzo’s low salaries had also led to high vacancy rates, which were around 7.5% compared to less than 1% at New Haven.

The unions were pushing for a 20% increase for this school year, but were able to negotiate a 20% increase over two years instead. The district started negotiations at 9%. The San Lorenzo Education Association overwhelmingly supported the negotiated compensation increase, ratifying the contract by a vote of 90% last week. The CSEA and SEIU contracts still need to be voted on by union membership.

San Lorenzo Unified School District Superintendent Daryl Camp praised the agreement.

“I’m proud and thankful that our district has been able to reach agreement with our professional associations,” Superintendent Daryl Camp said in a statement. “What we have achieved together puts us in a better position than ever to ensure a supportive learning environment for our students and be able to recruit, attract and retain excellent teachers and other staff to serve our students.”

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