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    Teachers, PRJUSD reach pay agreement

    by Casey Dumong

    Five day teacher pay negotiations result in two percent salary raise

    Teachers will receive a two percent pay raise in the 2017-18 school year and a 1.5 percent raise in the 2018-19 school year, according to a tentative two-year agreement reached by the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) and the Paso Robles Public Educators (PRPE) union. The agreement was reached in the fifth meeting between the district and union representatives; after an initial proposal that did not offer teachers a salary increase on the salary schedule, and  did not help finance  increased healthcare costs for teachers.

    “What we got is probably the best deal we’re going to see at this time,”  Jenny Martinez, PRPE negotiations team member and Psychology teacher, said.

    The pay negotiations comeas PRHS is the only high school in the county with increasing enrollment, and in fairly good economic times. However, PRJUSD is expected to have decreased revenues overall, according to district budget projections.

    The agreement did not include PRJUSD paying for 50 percent of health care premium increases, which are expected to amount this year to a seven percent increase, as the district has done in the past. However, it did continue three extra staff development days beyond the state minimum, which if lost would have equated to a 1.62 percent cut in annual salary.

    This agreement comes after a particularly heated negotiation between the district and teacher’s union. Teachers from schools throughout the district took action after the initial proposal, with approximately fifty teachers from throughout the district attending a Sept. 12th PRJUSD Board of Trustees meeting, with some speaking during the public comment.

    Robert Skinner smiles with bearcat pride.

    “Every teacher is going to have a pay cut…this is completely unacceptable,” PRPE negotiations team member and Social Studies teacher Robert Skinner said at the meeting.

    The administration is tasked with long term plans as well as current concerns. According to district officials, PRJUSD is working towards a ten percent reserve, which both district officials and union leaders have cited as part of the reason for the initial low offer. “We absolutely believe in [a ten percent reserve]… Most of us lived through the horror of having a three percent minimum reserve and almost being taken over by the state [and having] the blizzard of pink slips and furlough days. It was awful…I will never willingly go back to that,” PRJUSD Board of trustees president Field Gibson said.

    The agreement still needs to be ratified by the membership of PRPE, and the negotiations team recommends ratification. A ratification vote was expected to occur sometime between Oct. 2 and 6, according to PRPE executive director Jim Lynett.

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