Oakland school teachers approve deal to end strike, return to classes

by Kim Boateng Posted on March 4th, 2019

Oakland, California: Oakland teachers return to classes Monday after ratifying an agreement for an 11 percent raise over the next several years — ending a high-profile strike that lasted for seven days.

The walkout ended Sunday when the majority of the Oakland Education Association voted to accept the deal for the 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 school years. A 3 percent bonus is retroactive to last school year and the new contracts include salary raises for teachers and other positions.

The union voted to accept the deal Sunday after school administrators and union leaders brokered the deal Friday.

“We look forward to being in our classrooms again after having to strike to bring our Oakland students some of the resources and supports they should have had in the first place,” OEA President Keith Brown said in a statement. “This victory, accomplished through our collective strength on the picket lines with Oakland parents and students, sends the message that educators will no longer let this school district starve our neighborhood schools of resources.”

The union originally fought for a 12 percent raise over three years while the school district offered 7 percent over four years. In the end, the union got nearly everything it wanted.

The finished agreement will reduce class sizes slowly by one student at the “highest need” schools next year and by one student district-wide by 2021.

The school board will meet at 10:30 a.m. Monday to consider cutting almost $22 million from next year’s budget to pay for the pay raises. The board is expected to cut some jobs to make it work. The board canceled a meeting last week because trustees didn’t want to cross picket lines.

School district counselors and psychologists will have their case loads dropped over the next few years. Nurses will keep the same case load but receive $10,000 in bonuses in 2020 and 2021.

Campuses that were going to close as part of a cost-cutting measure will now be put on hold for five months. The school board will also ask California to halt the opening of new charter schools in the district.

The seven-day strike cost the district an estimated $1 million a day in lost state funding, which is based on enrollment.

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