A 5 percent pay cut for Gilroy teachers?

In this 2010 file photo, kindergartners dance and sing while saying the letting 'v' in a song with their teacher Kimberly Ordaz Wednesday at Luigi Aprea Elementary School.

The Gilroy Teachers Association and the Gilroy Unified School District hammered out a new contract that includes more furlough days for the 2012-13 school year.

After two “grueling” days at the negotiating table, the GTA agreed to take 10 unpaid furlough days next year. This will consist of seven instructional days and three staff development days, equating to a 5 percent pay cut.

That’s an even even higher salary ding, compared to what teachers saw this year.

In 2011-12, all certificated GUSD staff agreed to take eight furlough days, which equated to a 4 percent pay cut. Five of those furlough days consisted of regular school days; the other three consisted of instructional days.

The 10 furlough days for 2012-13, which are not in addition to the eight furlough days teachers took this year, are defined as a “temporary” change that hinges on the November 2012 election.

If Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative gets on the November ballot and passes, GUSD will only lose $2.9 million in funding. The 10 furlough days will be restored and teachers will receive the difference of the pay cut on their December paycheck.

If the governor’s tax initiative doesn’t pass, GUSD will lose $6.9 million and the 10 furlough days will remain.

In light of skyrocketing health care costs (Blue Cross went up 14 percent in 2011-12; Kaiser went up 9 percent), the GTA also asked the district during negotiations to help cover the rising cost of benefits – which are expected to increase by another 10 percent next year. The district was unable to accommodate this request, according to GTA President Michelle Nelson.

When asked if she thinks teachers will agree to the 10 furlough days, Nelson replied, “I believe that most teachers understand that this is necessary in Gilroy Unified.”

While teachers acknowledge “there is a fiscal crisis,” Nelson added, “it would have helped if GUSD had curtailed its spending, but we can’t control what the district does. We can only control our reaction to the available funds.”

The next steps are for teachers to ratify the new contract. Voting will open May 24 and close May 30. If the majority of teachers agree to the new bargaining agreement, the Gilroy Board of Education will make the new contract language official during its next meeting on June 14, according to Nelson.

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