After a negotiation process that grew tense at times, and dragged on for 13 months, Portola Valley Elementary School District teachers have reached an agreement with the district on a new contract.
The Portola Valley Teachers Association (PVTA) and district officials settled on the three-year contract at a Feb. 6 meeting, according to a district news bulletin. The agreement covers the 2022-23 through 2024-25 school years. Their previous contract expired at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
"The details of this new agreement will be disclosed as part of the association ratification and board approval processes," the district bulletin said. "The district and the association look forward to continuing the collaboration and hard work that enabled them to reach this agreement."
The board will approve the PVTA collective bargaining agreement after the teachers ratify the agreement, which will likely be March 30, said Superintendent Roberta Zarea in an email.
"This contract incorporates necessary changes so that we can continue to attract and retain the high-quality educators our students deserve and this community has come to expect," said union President Tim Sato in a statement Wednesday, Feb. 8. "We are immensely proud of our members for standing firmly for their values and are grateful for the parent and community support we received during this process. We look forward to continued collaboration with the district and will continue to advocate for our educational professionals."
Sato told The Almanac last month that teachers have worked incredibly hard over the last several years, particularly during the pandemic. The district was one of the first schools to reopen for in-person learning and teachers remained resilient during wave after wave of COVID-19 subvariants, he said.
"What we need the district to understand is that what we're asking for is in the best interest of our students," said Sato, who teaches at Corte Madera School. "You best support them by supporting teachers who provide them incredible instruction."
Teachers complained that their performance-based compensation structure has left their salaries trailing behind those of neighboring districts. Base salaries in the district, prior to this tentative contract, have started at $64,108, and teachers can earn up to $132,969. The Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) starts at $70,832 and tops out at $140,477. Zarea noted that MPCSD teachers work three extra days per year and 15 extra minutes per day, which is one of the reasons for their higher base salary.
Among the other complaints from teachers was a proposal by the district to add 30 minutes to the end of their school days.