May revise prompts bonuses for Hollister school employees

Nati Martinez goes over some vocabulary that students may be unfamiliar with during a history of romanticism literature lesson focusing on Dia de los Muertos during her seventh grade Spanish literature elective class at Maze Middle School. This is Martine

Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revision of the state budget means additional money for classified staff and teachers in the Hollister School District in the form of a one-time lump sum equivalent to 4.5 percent of their earnings.
The Hollister Elementary School Teachers Association joined classified staff in agreeing to a one-time bonus of 4.5 percent of their actual earnings from July 1, 2014 through March 2015, said Cheryl Rios, the association’s president. The teachers and the district came to this agreement May 20, she said.
The affected employees are set to receive the money this summer.
This bonus comes on top of a deal teachers reached with the district in April, which involved a slight increase in contributions to health and welfare benefits and an ongoing raise of 3 percent starting that month, but not retroactive to the beginning of the school year.
Teachers and other certificated staff members in the union previously negotiated an ongoing 2 percent raise last year for the 2013-14 school year, then got a 0 percent increase from August through March. They recently negotiated a 3 percent increase on top of last year’s increase for the months of April, May and June and continuing into the future.
Since the ongoing 3 percent raise is not retroactive to the start of the school year, that amount of money “is equivalent to a 0.82% (less than 1%) increase for the entire fiscal year,” Teacher Jack Bachofer told the Free Lance in an email.
The combination of the one-time, 4.5 percent bonus plus the ongoing 3 percent raise that started in April is the equivalent of a 3.8 percent raise for the school year, said Dennis Kurtz, the district’s director of human resources.
Certainly, the district worked with HESTA all year to come to something that would both meet their interests and was something that we could afford,” Kurtz said.
The earlier April agreement between the district and teachers means a roughly $370 dollar increase in contributions to benefits so that the district continues to pay an amount that would cover 90 percent of the premium costs for several health and welfare benefit plans.
That amount was $14,170 in the previous plan year and is expected to be $14,536—or $366 dollars more—in the next plan year, according to the tentative agreement shared with the school board at a regularly scheduled meeting in April.
“They have an amount that they were contributing toward any insurance package and they increased that amount by $370 over the whole year, not per month,” Rios said. “It’s a nice increase but it’s not a per month increase.”
In April, County Superintendent Krystal Lomanto reviewed a disclosure statement of the collective bargaining agreement between the teachers and the district as required by law and returned a “cautionary letter” warning the district that if the revenue is unchanged for 2014-15, the district would have to decrease expenses over the next two years by $625,000 in order to maintain a 4.5 percent reserve in the 2016-17 multi-year projection.
Since that time, the governor issued his May revise of the budget, which Kurtz called “very positive.”
“At the time when we were doing this, before the May revise—which was very positive—we didn’t know what to look at for the next three years,” Kurtz said. 
Rios called the agreement a “reasonable settlement” and applauded the negotiating team for “hanging in there.”
“It was a long, drawn-out process,” she said. “I think that it was longer than normal but we were successful in bringing the district from a 0 percent initial offer to the 3 percent along with the lump sum amount, so it was a long journey.”

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