Gilroy Unified School District’s top executive is confident that a new contract for the teachers union will be reached before the start of the 2018-19 school year.
Superintendent Deborah Flores has been part of negotiations with the Gilroy Teachers Association, whose members have been working without a new deal since the previous three-year pact expired in June 2017. Despite the apparent hardening of positions in the continuing impasse, Flores is optimistic.
“We completely trust the process and those we have representing the Gilroy Board of Education and Gilroy Unified School District,” Flores said. “We are confident that this will be resolved before our students return to the classroom in the fall.”
After exhausting all options, the district and its teachers agreed to bring in an independent mediator to help advance negotiations. They are in the fact-finding phase, where both sides talk independently and present their side to a panel.
“Both the district and the GTA bargaining unit are in the process of gathering facts to present to the fact-finding panel, headed by a neutral chairperson,” Flores said.
The certificated staff, among the lowest paid in Santa Clara County, are requesting a 6 percent pay raise and for the district to contribute an additional 5 percent for health benefits. The district’s offer has been a 2 percent pay increase and no additional contribution to the health care package.
The GTA and district leaders reached an impasse, or stalemate, in contract negotiations at the end of March.
In a June 6 vote of 544 GTA members, 84 percent voted in favor of a strike authorization unless the union demands are met. GTA leaders said that would happen sometime shortly after the start of the 2018-19 school year.
The first day of instruction is scheduled for Aug. 16.
GUSD’s starting salary for a first-year teacher is set at $50,743, according to edjoin.org, the education recruiter site used by California school districts. Other nearby local school districts with higher starting salaries, include Morgan Hill Unified School ($54,989), San Jose Unified ($54,958) and East Side High School District ($55,349). At both San Jose Unified and East Side, full-time employees pay no out-of-pocket premiums for health benefits.