New Claremont teacher contract includes four percent pay raise

There are some welcome changes in the collective bargaining agreement between the Claremont Faculty Association [CFA] and the Claremont Unified School District, most notably a four percent pay increase, retroactive for the 2013-14 school year. The district will also up its contribution to faculty members’ benefit pool from $8,052 to $9,552.

“Before we bargained, we [CFA officers] surveyed our members and found that our greatest concerns were class size, salary and benefits,” said past CFA president and Sumner Elementary School teacher Joe Tonan.

The teachers would have liked to see greater progress on the limiting of class sizes, particularly for students in transitional kindergarten through the third grade. In 2008, the student-to-teacher ratio for those grades was raised from 20:1 to 24:1. The latter average ratio will be maintained, with  “no class exceeding 25 pupils, except with mutual agreement of the classroom teacher and the District.”

New class size limits for students at San Antonio High School and Community Day School (average 24:1 with no class exceeding 30 pupils), represent progress for the union. There are also new limits for at-risk students at El Roble and Claremont High School, with 20:1 average with a 22-student limit and 24:1 average with a 30-student limit, respectively.

Prior to the school board approval, CFA members ratified the agreement on June 1 with a vote of 207-0.

In the last few years, both CFA officers and district personnel such as CUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Kevin Ward have praised the growing collegiality that reps have demonstrated on both sides of the table.

“I think CFA has built a great bargaining relationship with the district’s team that has allowed us to make changes in the contract that will benefit our students and our teachers,” CFA bargaining team member and CHS English teacher Kara Evans said.

Still, Ms. Evans and her colleagues believe that the class size issue will need to be addressed during the next round of contract negotiations. 

“Freshman English and Algebra class sized have almost doubled in size from 20:1 to 37:1,” Ms. Evans noted. “We tried to reinstate the lower class sizes but did not get a lot of traction.”

Mr. Tonan agreed that the teachers “have a long way to go” in this area.

“We know that the current practice of allowing 34 students in grades 4-6 and 37 students in grades 7-12 is too high and is not good for students, so we will continue to bring class size up as an issue.”

Overall, CFA President Dave Chamberlain emphasized, the new contract is something to be happy with.

“It was an awesome agreement for our teachers, our students and the district,” he said. “Everyone can be proud of what we accomplished this year.”

—Sarah Torribio



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