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Hart district budget back in black with teacher deal

• Union gives board more discretion on retroactive raises.

Posted: April 4, 2008 2:01 a.m.
Updated: June 5, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
The Hart district governing board approved an agreement with the Hart District Teachers Association this week, putting the district's 2008-09 budget back into the black.

The two groups had to come to an agreement on the wording of a Memorandum of Understanding by Wednesday's meeting of the William S.

Hart Union High School District board, in order to file a positive budget with the county.

The memorandum originally stated that any additional revenues to the district be used to pay the retroactive portion of the 2007-08 2 percent salary increase agreement. However, the board disagreed with some of the wording of the memorandum, which it felt was too restrictive.

Teachers association president Leslie Littman asked the board to make teachers a priority when money becomes available.

"When the governor announced his 10 percent across the board cuts, HDTA agreed to change the staffing ratio, agreed to accept an extra student in each class for the upcoming school year and agreed to forego contractual staff development money. We stepped up and did our part," Littman told the board Wednesday. "And then you showed a lack of faith in your representative and a lack of good faith with us when you told us that this was too restrictive on your ability to spend."

At a March 5 budget workshop, board members were able to make more than $10 million in necessary budget adjustments, meeting the state budget requirements and allowing them to file an unqualified report, only after Littman told the board that teachers would be willing to wait for retroactive raise payments.

After negotiations between the district and the teachers, the wording of the memorandum was changed to make it less restrictive, yet it still states a commitment to pay the retroactive salary increase.

"The revision says basically the same thing, it just doesn't list amounts," Littman said. "It maintains the idea that the (retroactive increase) is the priority, but does give the board some discretionary spending until it is repaid."

After approving the new agreement, the board was quick to credit the teachers with the district's ability to file a positive budget.

"I am very proud of the teachers in our district, because you did step up, and you became part of the solution," board president Gloria Mercado-Fortine said. "We are very happy to support this agreement."

The teachers association is glad that bargaining for 2007-08 is finally concluded, Littman said.

"We are pleased to have this over with - it just took a while for it to happen, so there's some frustration with that," she said.

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