Merced Union High School District employees to get bonus, raises

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comMarch 16, 2014 

— All 900 employees of high schools in Merced, Atwater and Livingston will get a one-time 5 percent salary bonus for the current school year and a 2 percent increase to their 2014-2015 salary, trustees decided at successive meetings last week.

The Merced Union High School District Board of Trustees unanimously granted the raises to members of the District Teachers Association, California School Employees Association and unrepresented management employees.

Leonard Kahn, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services, said the raises will cost the district an additional $2.6 million. The 5 percent bonus for 2013-2014 will show up in workers’ checks at the end of the month.

Kahn said the district begins collective bargaining for 2014-2015 wage and salary benefits with CSEA members on March 27. A time to begin talks with teachers hasn’t been established. The district has 500 teachers and about 400 classified, or nonteaching, support employees.

Trustee Dora Crane said she feels good about coming to a fair resolution with employee groups. She said the deal is good for every employee in the district.

“I’m looking forward to going into next year,” Crane said. “Now we can concentrate more on what we do with students.”

Blaine Barrick, DTA president, said his members agree the salary deal was the best they were able to get with this board. The association has 470 members.

“Members are happy with the results,” Barrick said.

Some teachers are unhappy with the timing of the one-time bonus, saying they didn’t have enough time to amend tax forms, Barrick said. Members voted 295-59 in favor of the new contract at a March 6 meeting.

Barrick said DTA members will be surveyed next week about what to pursue in future negotiations with the district. He expects to resume salary negotiations with the district in late April or early May for the 2014-2015 school year.

District employees have gone about seven years without a raise.

Willie Wohltman, CSEA president, said union members overwhelmingly approved the contact at a Feb. 28 meeting.

Wohltman said CSEA is looking forward to resuming negotiations to bring members up to prerecession salary levels and closer to current cost-of-living indexes.

Superintendent Scott Scambray said he is glad the bargaining has concluded and called negotiations a difficult process.

At a Thursday night board workshop, trustees heard John Gray, president of School Services of California, report that in general the state is running ahead of an already great financial outlook.

Gray told the board the 2014-2015 fiscal year looks to be stellar, and 2015-2016 is on pace to mirror that or even improve. School Services of California is one of the state’s top financial consultants, Kahn said.

Scambray said there will be more state money coming in but the district isn’t sure where it can be spent. New information outlining state Local Control Funding Formula regulations will come in June.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com .

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