Palmdale teachers accept tentative agreement, 4 furlough days

The Palmdale Elementary Teachers’ Association (PETA) voted last Thursday evening to accept the Tentative Agreement for the 2011/2012 negotiations.

A total of 644 teachers voted with the following results: 473 YES and 171 NO.

The Tentative Agreement that passed last week contains some language items as well as the approval of four furlough days for the 2012-2013 school year. The furlough days shall occur on non-student days and minimum student days so as to minimize the loss of student instructional time.

There were some minor changes to the contract language in order to address new mandates from the Los Angeles County Office of Education specific to the state retirement entity CalSTRS and the evaluation process.

The focus of the 2011-2012 negotiations has been to address the District’s $6.6 million deficit created by state budget cuts. All employee groups have tentatively agreed to the four furlough days in order to address the deficit.

In addition to the furlough days, the District will utilize funds otherwise used for deferred maintenance; will reduce and/or eliminate leadership team professional development and positions; and will use 1% of the District’s reserve.

“We’re pleased with the result. This allows us to continue working together to focus on student achievement,” said Superintendent Roger Gallizzi in a news release.

“The association accepted the contract primarily to reduce cuts to the classroom,” said Hugo Estrada, PETA President. “Given the uncertainty of the state’s economy we simply had to put our students first and brace ourselves in case the economy gets worse. Now that this is done, I know the district and association will focus on supporting the Governor’s Funding Initiative.”

“If we don’t support it and get it passed we are looking at another 15 days of instruction lost. That has to be our collaborative focus,” Estrada added.

Pauline Winbush, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources commented, “The 2011/2012 negotiations are an excellent example of interest based bargaining. As a result of the state’s on-going fiscal crisis, negotiations become more challenging. We adhered to the District’s commitment to Professional Learning Communities while at the negotiations table. Thus allowing us to collaborate with all employee groups to find solutions, though difficult, that remain focused on increasing student learning.”

The Tentative Agreement along with the Leadership Team Policy will be presented to the Palmdale School District’s Board of Trustees for ratification at the next Board Meeting on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

Carol Stanford, Palmdale School District Board President, stated, “I am so proud of our teachers that they do such a diligent job every single day, yet understand the fragile nature of the state budget. Palmdale continues to face adversities head-on and work together to find solutions.”

(Information via press release from the Palmdale School District.)