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La Cañada school district hashes out new staff contracts

Agreements will affect 337 bargaining unit employees and include pay increases.

July 03, 2013|By Sara Cardine
  • The school board approved new agreements with its three employee unions during a special meeting on June 28, 2013. The settlements call for increases in salary and benefits retroactive to last school year and continuing through fiscal year 2014-15, with a promise of more if voters pass a parcel tax in the spring.
The school board approved new agreements with its three… (Steve Greenberg…)

A rising tide lifts all boats, or at least that seems to be the cautious hope among La Cañada Unified School District officials, who recently approved raises for all teachers, administrators and classified staff after a years-long financial dry spell.

The school board approved new agreements with its three employee unions at a June 28 special meeting. The settlements call for increases in salary and benefits retroactive to last school year and continuing through fiscal year 2014-15, with a promise of more if voters pass a parcel tax in the spring. This is the first pay raise La Cañada teachers have seen in six years, according to the La Cañada Teachers Assn.

Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said Wednesday the district used a very conservative funding formula to determine it could maintain 2% increases without harming reserve funds, but she admitted there are still some crucial unknowns.

"We have the governor's Local Control Funding Formula, which means more money, but we're still uncertain as to what the actual dollars are," Sinnette said.

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The district's California School Employees Assn. and the Confidential, Managerial, Supervisorial Assn. agreed to 2% salary and benefit increases, and an additional 2% pending parcel tax approval. The teachers association accepted that amount only for fiscal year 2012-13, opting to reopen talks on compensation for the following two years after learning how the final state budget will play out.

Sinnette called the move "a gamble on their part," but LCTA President Mandy Redfern said in an email interview that the new Local Control Funding Formula was not fully realized when the bargaining for the new contract was underway. "We did not want to make any commitments until we actually understood the funding," she said.

As for the parcel tax, Redfern said the union will work hard to ensure the community understands the value of investing in local schools, and will return to the table to talk increases should it pass.

According to preliminary figures on the fiscal impact of the contract agreements submitted to the Los Angeles County Office of Education, La Cañada Unified had been spending a combined total of $23.9 million on its 337 bargaining unit employees, including salaries, benefits and other compensations.

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