By Shawn Raymundo

Contract negotiations between the teachers union and the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) for the 2019-2020 school year are slated to begin in the coming weeks.

The CUSD Board of Trustees on Thursday, April 25, voted to adopt the Capistrano Unified Education Association’s (CUEA) initial proposal, which outlines the areas of a collective bargaining agreement the union wishes to amend and address during the negotiations.

“One of the principal driving themes this year is to provide our teachers, our nurses, our counselors, our speech pathologists and psychologists with enough staffing and resources to carry out their important duties,” Greg Young, CUEA marketing chair and a San Clemente High science teacher, told the trustees.

Among the amendments the CUEA is requesting to add to the agreement is one for compensation increases to “offer competitive wages” and another to increase health and welfare benefit compensation.

“Capistrano, of course, is an incredibly well-respected district and one that we want to ensure to attract the best possible teachers, counselors, nurses and psychologists to continue the educational success,” Young said. “And we do this by making it a priority to offer a competitive salary and benefits package.”

According to CUEA’s initial proposal submitted to the district on March 29, the union is also looking to address the agreement’s section on Hours of Employments, specifically asking CUSD to “provide more time in (the) workday to prepare” for such things as curricula, grading, parent-teacher conferences and report cards.

In the same section, the union wants to “clarify how members are compensated for substituting for another member’s class or caseload,” as well as “provide compensation for time spent working beyond the contractual work day.”

“As we see more and more duties being assigned our professional group, we see the need for more time to accomplish these tasks, and we ask that there be a stronger consideration before adding any more duties to please consider the current responsibilities on our membership,” Young said.

In the section of the agreement on Class Size, CUEA is proposing that CUSD “provide additional assistance (and) support to members for students with disruptive/violent behaviors,” as well as to “decrease class size (and) caseloads.”

On March 29, the district also submitted an initial proposal to CUEA, stating that it, too, would like to address the Wages and the Health and Welfare Benefits sections of the agreement. CUSD proposed “to extensively explore total compensation for the 2019-2020 school year” while keeping in mind the economic projections and revenue realities of both the state and the district.

CUSD also said it wanted to address the Hours of Employment section to “provide greater impact of time in relation to student achievement,” in addition to the section on Evaluations to “reflect current school calendar dates in relation to evaluation timelines.”

“The District looks forward to constructive and collaborative negotiations with the Association,” stated CUSD’s initial proposal, which was signed by Associate Superintendent of Human Resource Services Tim Brooks.

Negotiations between CUSD and CUEA in previous years have had their share of roadblocks. The most recent negotiations for a three-year contract between the union and the district took more than a year, according to The Capistrano Dispatch’s news files. Those negotiations ended in January 2018 when the two groups reached a tentative agreement.

The following month, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve the contract, according to CUEA.

Young also noted to the trustees that members of CUEA and a team from CUSD recently met to determine a set of dates for negotiations, two of which will be before the end of the current school year and two more during the summer.

“I think it shows that we also feel, as you do, that we’d like to reach a reasonable conclusion quite quickly,” Young said.

According to the CUEA, the first two negotiation days are scheduled for May 16 and May 31. The summer dates have not yet been determined.

“While both the CUEA and the district have a number of issues to discuss, our team is optimistic that we should be able to reach a mutual agreement in a reasonable amount of time,” Young said.

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