FREMONT — The Fremont school district and teachers union have struck a tentative one-year agreement that, if ratified, would alter K-3 class sizes; restore some of the elementary science, music and physical education teachers' work hours; shorten the 2010-11 school year; and reduce teachers' take-home pay.

Specifically, the tentative agreement would result in:

  • K-3 class sizes jumping from 20 students to 28 — two less than the district's initial proposal.

  • An increase in science, music and physical education teachers' time at the elementary schools. This past year, prep teachers were cut to 33 percent; they would be restored to 50 percent.

  • Six unpaid furlough days, equivalent to a 3.21 percent pay cut. Teachers would teach three fewer days and no longer work three noninstructional days.

  • A 3.21 percent pay cut for substitute, adult school and preschool teachers, with a similar reduction in stipends for coaches and advisers of clubs and other extracurriculars.

  • An optional spring open house, voted on by the faculty at each school site.

    "This is difficult for all parties," said Brannin Dorsey, president of the teachers union.

    "I think the district, including the board members and the new superintendent and (the union's) bargaining team really tried to take in everyone's perspective to do the right thing for students and to protect the integrity of the education that we provide in Fremont."


    Advertisement

    Under the terms of the tentative agreement, students would lose three days of school next year. However, Dorsey said, teachers would gain back an extra staff development day, which would improve their teaching.

    Giving up an extra staff development day last year "actually hurt students because we rolled out a new math adoption which no one was able to get training for," Dorsey said. "The teachers need to be trained on the program or they're not going to be as effective."

    The tentative agreement also would restore some of the elementary prep teachers' time on campus and allow students in grades one through three to be taught by specialists. This past year, only students in grades four through six had science, music or physical education taught by a teacher specializing in those subjects.

    "This contract agreement ensures that all students in this district receive a quality education that will allow each and every one to reach their fullest potential despite the state's current budget crisis," school board President Lara York said in a statement.

    School district officials reported this week that Fremont Unified must plug a $16.2 million hole in its budget this coming fiscal year. It was unclear Friday how much the district would save under the tentative agreement.

    Teachers are to vote July 9-19 whether to ratify the agreement, and the school board likely will follow suit at its July 21 meeting.

    Negotiations with the district's two other employee groups, which represent clerical workers, food service employees, bus drivers and maintenance workers, are ongoing. The Fremont School Management Association, which represents administrators, also plan to meet with district leaders to discuss concessions.