FREMONT — Terms of a one-year contract ratified by the teachers union and school district this week, along with concessions by management employees, are expected to save Fremont Unified at least $9.2 million.
Among other concessions, teachers have agreed to six unpaid furlough days — equivalent to a 3.21 percent salary reduction — and a 3.21 percent cut in pay or stipends for substitute, adult school and preschool teachers, as well as coaches and club advisers.
The Fremont School Management Association, meanwhile, has agreed to a 3.21 percent work-year reduction.
The furloughs by the two employee groups, along with changes in prep teacher staffing levels, will cut district expenses by an estimated $9.2 million, said Bill Stephens, assistant superintendent of business.
While the savings will help the cash-strapped district chip away at a $16.2 million deficit it's facing, some parents are chastising the district for not doing more to keep classrooms small.
As part of the new teachers contract, class sizes in kindergarten through third grade will rise from 20 students to 28. Parents had hoped those classrooms could be capped at 24 kids.
"It looks like you're playing a game of chickens; whichever side blinks first loses," said parent Matt Stewart, voicing his disappointment over negotiation proceedings between the teachers union and district while addressing the board Wednesday.
Niles Elementary parent
"You've ignored all of us, even your own conscience," she said to trustees.
Both union and school officials conceded that the cuts are far from ideal, and blamed the state for the fiscal crisis.
Brannin Dorsey, president of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association, said union members aren't happy to see class sizes balloon to 28 and will advocate at the state level for lower class sizes.
"There is no good solution. It's (compromising) class size or something else has to go. We can't save everything. These are really hard decisions. They're hard for everybody," Dorsey said.
In addition to being placed in larger classes, students will lose three days of school as a result of the teachers' six-day furlough. The other three days would have been staff work days.
However, elementary students will regain extra time with specialized science, music and physical education teachers — a significant portion of which was lost last year, and in some cases, entirely. While prep teachers won't be restored fully, they will be staffed at 50 percent and allow all students in grades one through six to receive instruction from the specialists.
About half of the teachers union's 1,800 members voted on the agreement. Of those who cast ballots, 92 percent favored the contract, and the school board ratified it unanimously.
Board members noted that while the new cap for K-3 classes is 28 students, some classes may come in below that number, and that kindergarten classes had 30 students last year.
"This agreement is probably the best we can come to at this time," Trustee Ivy Wu said.
Contact Linh Tat at 510-353-7010. Follow her at Twitter.com/Linh_Tat.