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San Diego Unified agrees to 4% raise for educators and an increase in staffing

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with students while taking a tour of Dana Middle School in Point Loma on Feb. 28, 2020.
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with students while taking a tour of Dana Middle School in Point Loma on Feb. 28, 2020.
(Sandy Huffaker)

The district says it will add 86 elementary teaching positions, 12 school psychologists and 16 full-time nurses.

The San Diego Unified School District agreed to give all educators a 4 percent raise and increase staffing of teachers, nurses, counselors and special education, according to a tentative agreement with the teachers union announced June 25.

The district said it will add 86 new elementary teaching positions to reduce class sizes at schools, as well as 12 school psychologist positions.

The district said it will “make every effort” to hire at least 16 more full-time school nurses in the coming school year and to staff all school health offices five days a week, according to the agreement. Most San Diego Unified schools are not given a full-time nurse.

The San Diego Education Association, the local teachers union, told its members in a letter that “these improvements serve as a major down payment on larger and long-term improvements we can make once we return to the bargaining table next school year and as we organize with educators across the state to demand permanent public education funding increases.”

The 4 percent raise would come on top of already scheduled step-and-column raises, which increase teachers’ pay as they accumulate years of experience and higher levels of education.

California’s public schools are expected to get a significant boost in state funding as a result of increased state revenue from corporations and wealthier individuals.

San Diego Unified is expecting a 5 percent increase in general state funding next school year. The board approved a $1.7 billion annual budget June 22.

The district also has received about $658 million in federal and state COVID-19 relief funding, which is one-time money.

Before the vote, some opponents argued that the district will be indoctrinating students in critical race theory.

Educators have long called for better staffing ratios in San Diego Unified, particularly for school nurses, counselors and special-education staff.

According to current staffing ratios, most of the district’s elementary schools qualify for having a school nurse and a school counselor for only one day a week.

A San Diego Unified school would have to have at least 2,367 students to qualify for a school nurse five days a week, which is the case for two of the district’s more than 170 schools.

Most elementary schools qualify for a counselor just one day a week. Middle schools get one counselor for every 481 students and high schools get one for every 459 students.

The tentative agreement does not change those ratios, but it includes promises to try to hire more nurses. The district also would allocate eight more nurses to conduct vision and hearing screenings and manage immunizations.

The agreement also promises that no elementary school counselor will be assigned to more than two schools. Currently, elementary counselors are assigned to as many as three schools at a time.

Special-education teachers who have students with moderate to severe disabilities would be assigned a maximum of 12 students. If their school exceeds that limit for more than 10 consecutive days, the school will get more staff allocated to it.

Teachers of students with mild to moderate disabilities currently have a cap of 20 students.

The agreement also includes a promise that the district will not employ fewer than 95 school psychologists, which is higher than the current minimum of 65 positions.

To help recruit for hard-to-staff positions, the tentative agreement includes a $4,000 incentive payment for newly hired school nurses and special-education credentialed staff, including teachers, speech and language pathologists and school psychologists.


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