The Santa Barbara Unified School District’s board voted unanimously to approve a tentative contract with the teachers union that will institute seven furlough days, or the equivalent of a 3.5-percent pay cut. Two of the furlough days will be instituted at the beginning of the school year, and the rest are slated for the last week of the year, the hope being that Governor Jerry Brown’s tax-increase ballot measure will pass in November, increasing the district’s budget and allowing it to give back some or all of the furlough days. The district is also negotiating a seven-day furlough with classified (nonteaching) employees with the understanding that administrators will take an equal cut in paid working days.
Had the teachers union not conceded to all seven furlough days, class sizes would have increased dramatically. Layne Wheeler, president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association, said, “Teachers are wonderful people, and they respond to the students they teach and the community at large.” He is cautiously optimistic that the furlough days will allow the district to bring back all 70 permanent and probationary teachers who received layoff notices. On Tuesday, the board rescinded half of those layoffs due to the popularity of an early retirement package offered this year.
“I think it’s tremendous that the teachers voted to take a pay cut to save their colleagues and a teaching environment that is conducive to learning,” said Trustee Kate Parker, who promises she will canvass for the Measure W and X parcel taxes, which will help limit class sizes and pay for teachers in math, science, foreign languages, and arts. They are on the June ballot.