Mammoth Unified School District’s Board of Education voted Thursday evening to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the Mammoth Education Association teachers union. MUSD has been trying to reign in increasing deficit spending and avert potential insolvency by the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
The one-year agreement, from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013, calls for a reduction in salaries of $118,000. It also reduces Statutory Benefits (retirement, workers compensation, Medicare, etc.) contributions by $12,852, for a total savings of $131,152, affecting 66 employees represented in the negotiations.
According the Fiscal Impact agenda bill prepared by new District Business Manager Donnie Salamanca, salaries account for between 80 and 90 percent of MUSD’s budget. “The results of negotiations project that MUSD will have a reserve of 5% at the close of the 2014-2015 school year, well above the -3% originally forecast without any austerity measures,” he noted in the agenda bill.
The salary decrease is taken in net days in school. For the 2012-2013 school year only, the teacher work year consisting of 175 instructional days, one in-service day and one teacher workday for a total of 177 days, a decrease in of approximately 2.5%. During the 2012-2013 school year, the days furloughed will be the final five (5) days of the instructional year, at which point the entire school district will go dark during that time.
MUSD Superintendent Rich Boccia said the furlough days are a given for this school year, and will happen no matter what. On July 1, 2013, the teacher work year will revert back to I80 instructional days and one in-service day and one teacher workday for a total of I82 days.
MEA union lead negotiator Cheryl Hart previously said the teachers only want a fair deal, and have been willing to work with the District toward that end. Negotiations between the MUSD and MEA began this past spring, and four sessions between the two parties only resulted in a mutual agreement to declare impasse on July 25. There were a number of concerns expressed by both parties with the most pressing issue being that of maintaining the approved Board of Education (BOE) policy to maintain a 17% minimum reserve that would allow the District to remain fiscally solvent.
The bargaining also resulted in a negotiated cap on Health and Welfare benefits. Boccia said the year’s budget deficit, which started at around $880,000, is still about $250,000 short of being erased, and that assumes Prop 30, a tax initiative package proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, in part meant to shore up state education spending levels, is passed by the voters this November. Salamanca indicated in his report that, [MUSD] began the 2012-2013 fiscal year with a reserve of approximately $4,793,612 (40%), which he indicated would be sufficient to compensate for this fiscal year’s deficit.
A lot is riding on passage of Brown’s tax package. “The successful passage of Prop 30 provides a critical element in the fiscal solvency of this school district,” Boccia wrote in his agenda bill on the Collective Bargaining Agreement. His bill’s language went on to say that if the tax initiatives fail at the ballot box, both parties agree to meet soon after Nov. 6 and negotiate a revised salary and work year agreement.
MEA is also scheduled to vote on the agreement. Results were still pending at press time. Watch for updates as details become available.