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FETA and FUESD reach contract agreement

The Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD) and the Fallbrook Elementary Teachers Association (FETA) have agreed on contract negotiations after an ongoing process that had teachers rallying in downtown.

"FUESD's governing board and superintendent Dr. Candy Singh are pleased to have reached a three-year contract settlement with FETA," said Bill Billingsley, an assistant superintendent with FUESD. "The district looks forward to continued successful collaboration with our teachers and is proud to honor the excellent work they do to support and inspire academic learning and leadership in our students."

Negotiations between both parties had a rocky start, with elementary teachers throughout the district rallying for better pay in early March.

"After we had the rally in the square, we then surveyed members to see if they wanted to accept the district's four percent raise in retroactive pay and one percent pay increase in July," said Ken Ostroske, FETA representative. "They soundly rejected that."

The parties have completed negotiations for a three-year successor agreement on March 16.

"The district seemed reluctant to continue negotiations, but we felt an agreement could be made that day," said Ostroske. "We think it was a beneficial agreement for both sides negotiating, though I don't think either side is going to be entirely delighted with the outcome. It takes work. After some back and forth for a good part of the day, we were able to agree on a four percent pay increase for the 2015-2016 year, retroactive to July."

Healthcare terms were not changed during the negotiations, with the item set to be reviewed in the 2017-2018 academic year. Other negotiations agreed upon included a minimum 40 minute lunch for teachers across the district.

"At some schools they have a 45 minute lunch, but now it is contractually set at a minimum of 40 minutes," said Ostroske.

Another negotiation term that was agreed upon was more time for teachers to collaborate instead of spending that time with administration.

"The district was very understanding, and wants teachers to collaborate to best meet the needs of students," said Ostroske. "Years ago we had negotiated that Wednesdays would be shortened for collaboration, with 15 of those Wednesdays being reserved for meeting with administration. Now that has been reduced to 12 Wednesdays, which allows teacher to have more time to plan together and talk about students, new standards, and design assessment."

The district and FETA's agreement is set for three years, with re-openers agreed upon for salary and benefits in 2017-2018. In order to have a better transition between contracts, Ostroske stated he believes FETA and FUHSD should begin discussions earlier in the school year.

"Going forward, it is not a good strategy to start negotiating extremely late in the year," said Ostroske. "By the time our negotiations had started, well over half of school districts had wrapped up negotiations. It's clear that going forward things would be smoother if we started in September or October. We need to get at these issues sooner rather than later to smooth the process significantly."


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