ALAMEDA -- Teachers with the Alameda Unified School District have approved a contract that provides them a 4.5 percent raise over two years and protects lower class sizes for kindergarten through third grade, according to union officials.

Securing the raise -- the first for Alameda teachers in five years -- comes as district officials say they may have to pay property owners back up to $7.4 million if the California Supreme Court upholds a recent decision that tossed out parts of Measure H, the 2008 parcel tax that benefited Alameda schools.

Along with the 4.5 percent raise, the contract calls for teachers to receive an additional 1.75 percent raise during the 2014-15 school year if the Board of Education determines the district can afford it. If not, salary negotiations will reopen.

The contract also maintains the ratio of 25 students per teacher for kindergarten through third grade and sets the school calendar for 2015-16.

Gray Harris, president of the Alameda Education Association, declined to comment Friday on just how many of the association's 524 teachers backed the contract. But the support was overwhelming, she said.

The contract follows 10 months of negotiations that twice stalled when teachers declared an impasse.

State Assembly member Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, helped mediate the deal, which the teachers approved on Thursday.

The school board will consider approving the contract Tuesday, when it will also consider setting aside $5.8 million to offset the potential liability the district now faces after a state court of appeal struck down Measure H's rate structure.


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The money would come from the district's reserves and would be used to refund taxpayers if the state Supreme Court upholds the March 6 decision.

George Borikas and other commercial property owners who sued the school district maintain the measure was unfair because it taxed them differently than residential owners. The court agreed, finding only the flat $120 rate that homeowners paid was valid.

On March 12, the school board voted 4-1 to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Trustee Trish Spencer cast the lone no vote.

Measure H was replaced by Measure A, the current parcel tax that is not facing any legal challenges.

Reach Peter Hegarty 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.