Teacher contract negotiations in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District are at a crossroads, with teachers having recently voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike vote, and district officials this week presenting what they call their “best and final” three-year contract offer.
On Feb. 10, a mediator said that no additional progress toward an agreement is on the immediate horizon. The next step, a union official said, likely will be “fact finding,” in which an independent fact finder analyzes the facts of the bargaining process and works to identify potential compromises or points of agreement.
There is no set date for the fact-finding to begin, said Ann Katzburg, president of the San Ramon Valley Education Association.
Katzburg said Tuesday that since Jan. 27, 98.2 percent of the union’s 1,688 member teachers voted to authorize a strike if necessary. The main points of contention, she said, are class size and serving special education students.
“We have been repeating, for years, the needs of our special education students,” said Katzburg, noting no strike is imminent. “It has been an ongoing battle.”
The class size issue, she said, primarily affects the students in TK (transitional kindergarten) through third grade. The current cap is 26 students per class, Katzburg said; the district wants to raise it to 27.
The teachers’ most recent three-year contract expired in June 2019; the next such contract would expire in June 2022.
School district spokesman Christopher George did not return calls and emails for comment.
The district is one of the largest in the East Bay, with more than 36,000 students in 36 schools, most of them in San Ramon and Danville, and the unincorporated communities of Alamo and Blackhawk. Its headquarters is in Danville.
Katzburg said state funding to local school districts would help solve many problems at districts like San Ramon Valley.
She said the San Ramon teachers union supports the California Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative, which could be on the November ballot statewide and would require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the SRVUSD school board, Katzburg told trustees that, tax change initiative or not, “What we’re asking for, everything that’s on the table, is affordable.”
But the board members said they can’t get behind the proposed tax changes — at least not yet — until there is more information about how those changes would affect local businesses, big and small. The board voted unanimously to table the discussion.
“I want to know what the business community says,” Trustee Rachel Hurd said. “To cavalierly say, ‘let business handle it,’ that concerns me.”
Board President Greg Marvel added, “Once we have better numbers, better facts, knowing whether it will be on the ballot, I think this is a fair discussion to have later on.”
The San Ramon Valley Education Association has scheduled two “town hall” meetings to present the pro-teacher argument. One is Feb. 26, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Dougherty Valley High School, 10550 Albion Road, in San Ramon.
The second will be March 12, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at San Ramon Valley High School, 501 Danville Blvd., in Danville.