Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

[Updated: Thurs., June 13, 2024, 2:45 p.m.]

A teachers strike in the Santa Barbara Unified School District has been (tentatively) averted.

Teachers lined Santa Barbara Street with picket signs on Tuesday and Wednesday to show that they were “Strike Ready!” should the most recent round of mediation with the district fail to produce a wage settlement.

However, after Wednesday morning’s fact-finding hearing, and 12 subsequent hours in mediation, their contract dispute may soon be over.

The tentative agreement for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 school years includes a 10 percent salary increase in the first year and a 5 percent increase in the following year — “and potentially more if the district’s property tax revenue increase is more than 5 percent,” said Hozby Galindo, president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association (SBTA).

The agreement will also provide additional paid work days for special educators and early childhood educators. Earlier agreements increased the contribution for educators’ health benefits and guaranteed reduced class sizes for students.

Both bargaining teams are likely breathing a sigh of relief. This agreement comes after long months at the bargaining table, several heated school board meetings, teacher rallies, student protests, an impasse declaration, two failed sessions with a state mediator, and a strike authorization vote.

However, not all SBTA members are happy with the agreement, which was revealed after the news was released Thursday morning. The increases are notably lower than what the union had pushed for. SBTA was asking for a 15 percent raise next year and 8 percent the following year, while the district’s last offer was 9 percent and 4 percent.

Union membership will be meeting soon to review and vote on the tentative agreement, which, if passed, will move on to the school board for approval. They need a simple majority to adopt the agreement.

“While this is a historic settlement for our members and our community, we are not done yet,” said Galindo. “We want members to vote yes for this tentative agreement, and then work with us to elect a school board that will return the focus of this district to what happens in the classroom.”

If ratified, the three-year contract would become effective July 1, 2024, and end on June 30, 2027.  

“We are proud that the district came to a tentative agreement. This contract is about resolution, and moving forward,” said school board president Wendy Sims-Moten. “The Board will continue working with District staff and labor partners to bring everyone together so Santa Barbara Unified can be the place of greatest opportunity.”

This is a developing story. Check back for additional details as they become available.

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