Teachers in the Las Lomitas Elementary School District will receive a retroactive 1.75 percent salary increase for the 2008-09 school year under a newly signed agreement reached between their union and the district.
The agreement also includes a 0.25 percent increase in health benefits, according to district Superintendent Eric Hartwig, who said the contract took about 18 months to negotiate.
That's longer than usual for the Las Lomitas district, but reflective of the tumultuous state of the economy, which resulted in a drop in anticipated property tax revenue, losses suffered with the Lehman Brothers collapse, and state funding cutbacks, he said.
"It took a long time to digest that stuff, and what it all means" for the economic health of the district, he said.
The burgeoning number of students in the district's two schools -- Las Lomitas (K-3) in Atherton and La Entrada (4-8) in Menlo Park -- also complicated negotiations, as class size district-wide and the number of students each middle school teacher is required to teach were issues that needed to be grappled with in the talks, Mr. Hartwig said.
Despite the success in finally signing an agreement, the two parties won't be taking a very long breather. The district and its teachers will soon go back to the table to negotiate the contract for the current (2009-10) school year, and possibly the following year.
Mr. Hartwig said it would be ideal to conclude those talks before the school year is out so that the district can implement possible changes at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, but "it will require some really hard work and good faith on both sides."
"I really respect the hard work (the teacher labor team) put into negotiations" during the past year and a half, he said. "We have a terrific teaching staff who devote a huge amount of time" to the schools.
Teacher Brenda Nixon, president of the Las Lomitas Education Association, which represents the teachers, was not available for comment.