Lodi Unified School District gains some school days - News - Mobile

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Lodi Unified School District gains some school days

New agreement with teachers union means more educational time


Students and teachers in Lodi can tack an extra five days on to the school year, thanks to a new agreement through the teachers union.

The Lodi Education Association has reached an understanding with Lodi Unified School District to restore five instructional days, with pay, to the 2013-14 calendar.

"It is definitely a win for the kids. It is a shared interest to get days back for kids as quickly as possible," said Jeff Johnston, LEA president.

To pay just the teaching staff for those five days costs $2.5 million.

The school board of trustees was adamant that at least some days be returned to the school calendar, said Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer.

"The board is very interested in providing more instructional time for kids, so we have made this one year agreement with the teachers," said Nichols-Washer.

When Proposition 30 passed in November 2012, some funding was restored through a sales tax increase and an income tax increase on high-wage earners.

The teachers union saw that return of funding as an opportunity to regain some concessions made in their contracts three years ago.

Teachers gave salary concessions in 2010, which added up to more than 6 percent of individual salaries. The concessions consisted of loss of work days via furloughs, as well as a 2 percent general salary cut.

The agreement reached this week would restore approximately 2.5 percent of each salary. Two furlough days still remain in the calendar.

More bargaining between the union and Lodi Unified will continue when the district's budget is nailed down in April. Johnston said they will focus on salary, benefits and class-size reduction.

"The peril to district budgets is less than what it was before Prop. 30 passed. We're seeking the full restoration of instructional days and salaries," said Johnston.

Members of the Lodi Unified board of trustees applauded the decision.

"The more time students have in the classroom, the more education a student gets," said Ralph Womack, school board president.

Womack said restoring school days is less expensive than creating smaller class sizes, so that is an easier agreement to reach. Smaller class size means reducing the student to teacher ratio across the entire district, which can add up quickly.

"Class-size reduction is a goal we'd all like to achieve, but we're still not sure what's coming down the road. I feel we're being rightfully cautious," he said.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.