Berkeley teachers, district, reach tentative agreement

Berkeley teachers protest

A teacher protest on the steps of Old City Hall last May over the then-stalled contract negotiations. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Berkeley Unified School District and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers have reached tentative agreement on a 2013-2015 contract, subject to ratification by the school board and the BFT. Agreement seven months into the school year is rapid compared to some recent contract negotiations.

In the agreement, all teacher wages, including salaries, stipends, daily rates and hourly rates, will be adjusted to reflect a 1.5% increase backdated to July 1, 2013, and an additional one-time bonus payment equal to 2.0% of the teacher’s 2013-2014 salary. Each teacher will also receive a 2.0% increase effective July 1 this year. 

Other areas covered in the agreement include the approval of two years of the school calendars, and an increase in instructional minutes for students in grades 6 through 8 by 20 minutes per day, from the current 305 minutes to 325 minutes.

“Reaching a mutually agreeable contract with BFT is the first step towards what I hope will be successful agreements with all of our unions, and I hope to be able to make that announcement soon,” said BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans in a statement announcing the tentative agreement.

“This contract furthers the process of beginning to restore compensation after the Great Recession and deep cuts to education funding in California,” said Cathy Campbell, BFT President, in the same statement. “With teachers working incredibly hard to implement the new Common Core Standards this contract will provide a needed morale boost and help teachers to focus on the core tasks of teaching, learning and continuous professional improvement.”

“We’re all working for the same thing here — the best possible education for our students,” said board president Josh Daniels in the statement. “On behalf of the entire board, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who negotiated, on both sides of the table, to reach this positive agreement.”

Last May, the district and the teachers reached agreement on the 2012-2013 contract, two weeks before the end of the school year. That agreement ended years of stasis: the teachers had been working under an extension of a July 2008 agreement, which was intended to last two years. Both the teachers union and the BUSD agreed to extensions with no salary increases during the worst of the economic recession.

Berkeley teachers, district agree on 2.5% wage increase (05.31.13)
Berkeley teachers’ bonus plan rebuffed by district (03.07.13)
Portraits: Berkeley school gardening and cooking educators (05.29.13)
Berkeley appoints Donald Evans as new Schools Superintendent (05.22.13)

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  • guest

    We need to invest more in the education of our kids. I see my kid’s teachers with so many contact hours, so many hours needed to plan classes, and so many hours needed to grade papers. It is too much that we are asking of each individual teacher. The teaching job as it is described now is impossible to do. While more pay is good, we also need to reduce in class time, to allow for more preparation, and grading. In some classes, the teachers could be helped by professional graders, as they are in colleges. Capitalism: you get what you pay for, and we do not pay much.

  • Guest

    Berkeley already invests a ton in its schools, unfortunately that investment is diluted with unchecked fraudulent enrollment and an outdated student busing system that splinters communities.

  • Jjohannson

    Keep it classy, people. Yesterday’s thread had a wheel in the ditch and a wheel on the track…

    Congrats to the district and the union. Lots of good energy in the schools these days, notwithstanding the federal defunding of gardening and cooking. Education is a marathon, not a sprint, and the district has some downhill running ahead of it.

  • guest

    Here is a simple info graphic about per-student spending in America compared to other first world nations. Those who complain that we do not spend enough on our students are factually incorrect.

  • guest

    Not enough resources? We spend more per pupil in America than any other developed Nation on Earth.

  • guest

    Dude you cannot enter “right out of college” unless you have done extra in college to get the teaching certificate. A lot extra. You can not take your BA in Biology and become a teacher “right out of college”, You have to take the classes for the credential, and do the student teaching. I have a couple of graduate degrees, and I am still not eligible to be a public school teacher.

  • guest

    Forget not Norway, Switzerland and Luxembourg!

    Bush has repeatedly — and falsely — claimed that the United States
    spends “more per student than any country in the world.” Luxembourg,
    Norway and Switzerland all spend more than the U.S. on elementary and
    secondary education.”

  • guest

    Private Schools determine costs and fees through the open market.
    Let’s look at what they charge to educate a child:

    Head Royce
    K-5 $24,770
    6-8 $27,655
    9-12 $35,455

    Tehiyah Day School
    Bridge-K, Kindergarten & First Grade: $7,950 – $19,750
    Second through Fifth Grades: $8,350 – $20,850
    Sixth through Eighth Grades: $9,450 – $22,450

    L’Ecole Bilingue
    Preschool through Fifth Grade: $23,120
    Sixth through Eighth Grade: $26,185

    The idea that the public schools should perform the miracle for $7743 seems unfounded.

  • guest

    You vastly overstate the typical teachers pension:

    Try the calculator here:

    For instance, I put in a person retiring with 30 years of credit at age 65, and they did not get 100%, they only got 75%. Also, many teachers do NOT receive social security.

  • guest

    Oh boy, slightly less than the 3 top spenders and still ranked near the bottom? Definitely proof that we need to SPEND MORE rather than reform our schools.

  • EBGuy

    Add four years to find yourself and get the credential, then you retire with 90% of salary. Listen, my point is to respond to the guest who wrote: Capitalism: you get what you pay for. The market signals ARE there and send a clear message. If my child has an aptitude and desire to teach, I wouldn’t have a problem encouraging him or her to pursue that path. Or for that matter, if they have an interest in police work, going to a four year college and applying for a Berkeley job starting at $92k is not a bad way to make a living. You can retire before you’re eligible to join AARP. Neither of these jobs in easy, and without a doubt, they require a passion and specific aptitude.
    That said, how do you define “vested”?

  • guest

    >The idea that the public schools should perform the miracle for $7743 seems unfounded.

    And yet plenty of other developed nations are able to do it just fine. So, clearly, it’s possible.

    Trying to be purposefully deceptive by comparing apples to oranges with public/private schools while ignoring the glaring differences between them seems sort of pointless.

  • Devin

    Worth noting that in constructing this graph, their definition of school aged children was 6-23 which includes the collegiate system and imo makes this a pretty useless graphic (nicely constructed though) as many internationals are drawn to the US to get a college education.

    You are not guaranteed a college education in the US and if you go, you get some choice in who you pay to educate you, but for K-12 public schools, where kids are stuck with the school system in which they live, paying enough to attract bright minds to teach our children would be a good long-play move. Well done getting this positive contract ironed out before the end of summer!

  • guest

    Dude you can if you’re going to college for the express purpose of becoming a teacher.

  • EBGuy

    The sentence about AARP eligibility followed the sentence about police work. (Public safety work allows you to retire REALLLYYY early).
    In the teaching realm, CalSTRS for boomers is 2.4% at 63. The millenials get 2.4% at 65. I do recommend looking at the chart versus using a calculator so that you can see where the cutoffs are.

  • mwatrous

    wow….and these are the “educated”?….more “empty headed morons”…not surprised it’s BEZERKLEY!…ha ha ha…and guess what?…I was born there….too stupid to even know that the only drive is being driven by the union….stupid stupid “educated” peeps….

  • Rob Wrenn

    You would have to work for more than 40 years as a teacher under CalSTRS to get 100% of your salary. Teachers’ retirement formula is not nearly as generous as that for city and county employees under CalPERS, some of who contribute nothing toward their retirement, and way way less generous than what it is for police and fire. How many teachers work for 40 years? How many teachers in Berkeley schools are even 60 or older. Answer: a quite small percentage. Teaching in a public school is not the world’s easiest job.

  • Rob Wrenn

    Biggest difference is that private schools get to pick and choose who their students are. Public schools have to educate everyone, regardless of behavior problems, disabilities, interest in learning, etc. Being a public school teacher is way more challenging than working in a private school.

  • guest

    Class size, variety of courses, quality of instructors, extracurricular options, etc etc etc.

    Pensions are a hidden cost in public schools. They aren’t included in the per-pupil spending numbers.

  • guest

    You are right, and teaching is definitely not one of them.

    “CalSTRS estimates that the median benefit replaces 60% to 65% of a
    CalSTRS member’s pre-retirement income. The average monthly member-only
    benefit is $4,329.**

    Here are some nice fresh facts from Feb of this year:

    the average CalSTRS participant retires at age 62, which is the
    current earliest age one may collect Social Security retirement
    benefits. At age 62, the average CalSTRS retiree collects 56% of their
    final salary in the form of a pension, whereas, depending on their
    income, the average Social Security recipient collects between 29% and
    36% of their final salary in the form of a retirement benefit. At age
    65, the oldest age necessary to collect the full CalSTRS benefit, a
    CalSTRS retiree with 35 years experience will collect a retirement
    benefit equal to 84% of their final salary. At age 65 a Social Security
    recipient will collect a retirement benefit between 30% and 35% of their
    final salary.

  • guest

    Another data point. Are you currently teaching English here in America? Want to try Tokyo? Starting salary $68k / year + an annual housing allowance of ¥1,730,000 to ¥2,804,000, which is $17k to $28k

  • guess

    Oh, only 54% more than the average working stiff? Well, that’s practically nothing!

  • guest

    Our big hockey loving neighbor Canada pays its teachers more than USA, and “Germany, Austria, Luxemboug, Ireland and Korea have top salaries for elementary teachers that are higher than Canada’s.”

    “Germany, Austria, Luxemboug, Ireland and Korea have top salaries for elementary teachers that are higher than Canada’s.”

  • guest

    You are comparing the extreme case to average case, i.e. average working stiff to someone who did 35 years in public teaching, which is pretty unusual. The typical retiree does not make to 35 years in teaching.

    More importantly, you are ignoring the “expected value” of the pension upon entering the profession. If you burn out and leave after only 5-10-15 years, you get zero, zilch, nada. Many teachers do. Contrast the typical worker who can change jobs and careers throughout life, and does not risk their social security, or their 401k as they do.

  • BerkeleyResident

    You ever notice how, on average, public safety workers also die REEEAAAALLLLY early after retirement? As in the job is REEEAAALLY tough on the body?

  • Realist

    HEY…Try teaching first grade for thirty years like myself…..”retire” on less than half your salary….no social security…no dental…..out of pocket medical…..check it out. come back with facts instead of vapid hyperbole…