Las Lomitas district teachers sign agreement


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.

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Posted by Out of work parent
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Wow, the Las Lomitas teachers got a raise. Congratulations.

They are already in the very top of salary ranges for all teachers in California. The teachers don't seem to realize the Teachers Union is just using them as tools in the greater state teacher salary fights, as a point of saying "see, even in a terrible recession, other schools are giving raises." Or, "see how far our school's salaries are below the upper limit in the state." Raise the limit at Las Lomitas and use it as a leverage point for negotiations at other districts.

I'm disappointed Mr. Hartwig gave them a raise. And I'm disgusted by the greedy teachers. They made the issue public with letters to the school board and the Almanac, but they've never given us any public indication that they realize what an error it was, and how it needlessly damaged the formerly good relationships between parents and teachers. No attempt from their side to fix the bridge, just more indications of their self-pity.

A note to LLEF: we won't be donating until we hear the results of the upcoming, current year negotiations. If there are more teacher raises, we'll assume that the school doesn't really need parent money.

Don't forget, an annual raise is built into the teachers' basic contract, whether or not they get an additional raise as they have just been granted.

Teachers -- feeling unappreciated and underpaid? Please feel free to find another district where you can have the kind of environment you've had at Las Lomitas - at least, until you poisoned the well.

And to the teacher who is head of the school's union, I can't express how disappointed I am to find that you are a tool of the state teacher's union. Years ago, my kid had a great experience in your class. Now -- I'd transfer a kid out of your class.

Like this comment
Posted by LL- unfan
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Don't count on my contribution to the foundation...ever again

and count on me to vote against the bond when it comes up again for a vote.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

These kinds of agreements will continue until the citizens demand change.

Who in the private sector do you know who has gotten a raise this year?

Like this comment
Posted by Distressed
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 12, 2010 at 11:05 am

Las Lomitas teachers are excellent and committed. I'm just sorry they're unable to think in new ways when circumstances change. Unfortunately, their insistence on more pay while many of us are taking pay cuts or losing our jobs, and programs for the kids are being cut, gives the union-bashers the ammunition they want.

I'm a supporter of unions, so this behavior is distressing. Union members have to avoid inflexible thinking if unions are to survive the ill will that seems to be growing against them.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And NOW we find out:

"Ax falls on Las Lomitas district budget, but more cuts needed
Another $300,000 in new state cutbacks likely to bring more pain to district."

Looks like they were spending money on a labor agreement BEFORE they even knew what their revenue was going to be - not a very smart way to run an organization.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Worth noting that commentor Peter Carpenter is NOT in the Las Lomitas school district, if he lives in the Lindenwood part of Atherton.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I stipulate that I do not live in the Las Lomitas School District but as a California taxpayer I am indeed helping support your schools.
And as a citizen I find it disturbing when the public is not kept fully informed by public officials. For example, here is what California law requires of a school district:

"S8. Status of Labor Agreements Analyze the status of employee labor agreements.

Identify new labor agreements that have been ratified since budget adoption1, as well as new commitments provided as part of previously ratified multiyear agreements; and include all contracts, including all administrator contracts (and including all compensation). For new agreements, indicate the date of the required board meeting.

Compare the increase in new commitments to the projected increase in ongoing revenues and explain how these commitments will be funded in future fiscal years.

If salary and benefit negotiations are not finalized, upon settlement with certificated or classified staff:

• The school district must determine the cost of the settlement, including salaries, benefits, and any other agreements that change costs and provide the county office of education with an analysis of the cost of the settlement and its impact on the operating budget.

• The county superintendent shall review the analysis relative to the criteria and standards and may provide written comments to the president of the district governing board and the district superintendent."

Yet this district just signed a new labor agreement - where is the above analysis? Why was it not provided to the public? Why are the citizens and the newspapers not insisting on getting this information?

Like this comment
Posted by sad parent of LL kid
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Feb 12, 2010 at 4:02 pm

What Mr. Carpenter doesn't know is how hard the administration and school board have to work with the unions that refuse to negotiate in good faith. None of the analysis was hidden from the public, you just have to go to meeting or read the minutes to find out about this. Our superintendent has worked hard to e-mail district parents while still being gracious to the teachers all to avoid more strife within the district that is mostly from the teachers.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm

In the private sector, we are foregoing salary increases (or taking small decreases) so we can keep our workforces as intact as possible.

Like Pete, I don't live in the Las Lomitas district and like Pete, I also support the district with my taxes.

The current system is simply not sustainable. Let's see how enthusiastic parents are when their child's class size increases and how happy teachers are when there are layoffs or non-replaced attrition.

Congratulations on your salary increase.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sad Parent states:"What Mr. Carpenter doesn't know is how hard the administration and school board have to work with the unions that refuse to negotiate in good faith."

When unions won't negotiate in good faith then you just say NO. That is what the Fire District has done for over 18 months. You certainly don't capitulate to the union's demands.

Like this comment
Posted by Professional Athelete
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 18, 2010 at 11:06 pm

They got a 1.75% raise folks, that's nothing considering what they have or will deliver for your kiddos.

You folks are broke, unemployed, and bought your shacks in the bubble and now bitter. Those are your personal problems.

Unions are here to protect the teachers not you or your kiddos.

Yes the economy is bad but do you think Lebron James or Tom Brady take a pay cut because the fans or owners are feeling the pinch????

In the upcoming DRAFT you will see records break, yes even in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Wake up folks, the glory days of overspending is history. With revenue going down in taxes from real estate, you parents need to step it up on the giving and yes the teachers will need to sacrifice too but have you asked your administrators on what their pay and golden parachuts look like????

Like this comment
Posted by Harry
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Feb 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

Of course, if those "atheletes" had good public school teachers, they might know how to spell the word athlete correctly.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm

To local residents who are not within LL boundaries: the amount of tax money you are contributing to Las Lomitas district is miniscule. The District schools are "basic aid", meaning that they receive a minimum (basic) amount of state educational dollars. This is a flat amount and does not go up as more students enroll. In fact, the basic aid amount has just been slashed (or Calif is taking it back), hence recent news of further cuts.

Basic aid districts have good local property tax revenue, which is where the bulk of the annual amount comes from. Because these schools can reach the state average level of funding through taxes on local high value properties, the State provides a minimal amount.

So for those living beyond the district boundaries, perhaps a few pennies of your state tax money are coming to Las Lomitas, but probably not enough to be worth worrying about.

A parent (who sounds like a current or former board member, thanks for your service) points out how hard Eric Hartwig has worked to negotiate with the union without alienating teachers. I agree that Eric is consistently communicating with parents with the information he is able to make public. I have very high regard for Eric; I'd like to see what he can do to ameliorate the alienation parents are feeling. There is now a barrier (which looks and smells like UNION) between parents and teachers. We think they're being stupidly selfish, and many of us won't donate to LLEF this year. Eric, please help us cranky under-appreciated parent donors feel that our teachers deserve our support. I expect we're acting spoiled in our own way, but you have to keep your donors happy.

Personally, I am curious to see how things change as cuts are implemented. I know it will be a bit tougher on my kids to be in larger classes, and have less enrichment. But I can buy a whole lot of private enrichment for the many thousands of dollars we would have donated. Will these teachers who felt so bitter about not getting a raise for a year be more bitter, or will they begin to be grateful for the (comparatively) good deal they've got? The districts expects to hire less experienced teachers (although I don't know how much less experienced than straight out of teacher school you can get). Will the new teachers be excited to be at the highest paid school in the state? Or will they be poisoned by the current crowd?

Perhaps the teachers will show some independent thinking skills and replace their union head with a better choice. Perhaps they'll realize the wisdom in the old saying "don't bite the hand that feeds you." Perhaps they'll absorb some of the philosophy of being happy with what you have instead of resenting what you don't have.

And perhaps the yet-to-be-hired new LL principal will get them to face reality.

Like this comment
Posted by Elin
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:51 am

Teachers Union wants their "fair" share.

Superintendent and staff wants their "fair" share. Note, we're in Atherton here so we're a school district that has been use to inflated tax revenue, thus all the great programs and admin support with a dedicated superintendent just for two grade schools.

Prop 13 is helping us seniors afford our housing.

Nice loopholes for people in the district: renters and people with grandparents/family as homeowners who can qualify their kids at the schools w/o the high taxes

Who gets the short end of the bargain? Kids not in the district (of course, this is only for the priveledged kids who can afford to live in a rich district with such a fine education rated #1 in CA), families who recently moved into the district (you pay the majority of the taxes in your neighborhood and well expect to pay additional parcel taxes and "expected" contributions to the Foundation).

Sounds like a fine system that is about to tip over when the economy slows and real estate bubble bursts. Easy money from stocks and bonuses are on hold while more is expected from taxpayers and parents. Something will give, we'll see in the coming years.

Like this comment
Posted by Solo
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 28, 2010 at 7:10 pm

More cuts coming, prepare for parcel tax proposals and more pumping from the admin and assessors/real estate agents on your property values.

Like this comment
Posted by Kogo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm

"Fair share" cuts from the State coming, I wonder how these labor agreements made by the administration look now to the taxpayers. NOT TOO SMART.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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