The Gilroy Unified School District reached a tentative agreement with the teachers’ union that will result in salary increases and other benefits for educators.
Per the agreement with the Gilroy Teachers Association, which was unanimously approved by the GUSD Board of Education on March 18, teachers will receive a 4.25 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2020, along with an increase in health benefits.
Overall, the increases are expected to cost $2.6 million for the 2020-21 school year, according to Chief Business Officer Alvaro Meza.
The district and the teachers’ union have been at the bargaining table for a year, as the previous three-year agreement ended in June 2020.
At issue was compensation, with some teachers saying the district was not offering enough toward salaries and benefits, making Gilroy teachers among the lowest paid in the county.
GUSD officials, meanwhile, pointed to declining enrollment and funding that is further complicated by Covid-19.
Trustee Michelle Nelson, who served 12 years as the president of the Gilroy Teachers Association, gave kudos to both sides during the March 18 meeting, saying that there is not always an “amicable relationship” during negotiations.
“This is an excellent agreement,” she said. “I think both sides got quite a bit of what they wanted.”
In a letter to the board, GTA lead negotiator Eric Davis thanked the district, saying the “tentative agreement provides safer working conditions, more effective learning environments and a fair salary and benefit increase that will improve our ability to recruit and retain fully qualified educators.”
“Our ability to reach this agreement after 12 months of bargaining during a pandemic is a testament to GTA and the district’s positive working relationship,” he wrote.
Negotiations are ongoing with the California School Employees Association Chapter 69 and Gilroy Federation of Paraeducators.
Before labor agreements are factored in, the district expects to end the 2020-21 year with $25.6 million in reserves, Meza said.
The district receives funding from the state based on its average enrollment, which is expected to decline significantly in the near future, he said. GUSD anticipates losing $6.3 million in revenue from the state when “hold harmless” provisions for attendance expire in 2022-23, according to Meza.
After reaching a high of 11,483 during the 2016-17 school year, enrollment stands at 10,821 for the 2020-21 year, and is expected to further decrease to 10,395 the following year. Declining birth rates and the housing market are among the reasons for the drop, he said.
GUSD expects to receive $10.8 million in one-time funds from the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus bill recently signed by President Joe Biden, as well as roughly $7.4 million from the state if the district returns to in-person instruction by April 15, according to Meza.