LONG BEACH - The Long Beach Unified School District today is expected to ratify a new contract with its teachers union after nearly two years of negotiations.
The contract agreement is a compromise over health care benefits, which has become a growing issue across the state as cash-strapped school districts struggle with the rising costs of employee health care.
The agreement would also save the district's Head Start preschool program, which was slated to be cut next year in a round of budget reductions. Under the new agreement, Head Start teachers will take an 11-day pay reduction in order to keep the program.
The Board of Education and the Teachers Association of Long Beach are both expected to ratify the contract at the regular board meeting.
LBUSD officials said the plan addresses the escalating costs of health care while saving the district about $1.5 million in 2013 through health plan adjustments.
LBUSD teachers currently pay no monthly premiums on their health insurance. The district pays up to $21,862 a year in health benefits for a teacher under the most expensive family plan.
TALB and the LBUSD have been in contract negotiations for 20 months but hit a stalemate on health care benefits.
Under the tentative agreement, the school district's maximum contributions for medical premiums would be set at 100 percent of the most expensive plan for employees that goes into effect Jan. 1.
If the cost of the health plans goes up in 2014, the school district contribution would cover up to 3.
The school district had previously proposed a maximum employer contribution cap of no more than 95 percent of the 2012 premium costs of the most expensive plans. However, the proposal drew backlash from employees who said the plan would cost some families hundreds of dollars each month.
Both parties have said they are glad to have reached a tentative agreement.
The board meets at 5 p.m. today at 1515 Hughes Way.