Fresno Unified School District and the Fresno Teachers Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract, averting a strike just one day before teachers were planning on walking out.
FUSD Superintendent Bob Nelson, FTA president Manuel Bonilla and other district and union executives signed the tentative agreement Tuesday morning at Fresno High School.
The big picture: After a year and a half of failed negotiations with the strike just around the corner, the district and the union worked through Monday evening to keep the teachers in their classrooms come Wednesday and avoid having the district be forced to bring in thousands of substitute teachers.
- District and union officials say the new contract will result in lower class sizes and provide complete healthcare and lifetime benefits to teachers.
Contract details: Fresno Unified teachers will receive an 8.5 percent raise immediately, a three percent raise in 2024 and a 4.5 percent raise in 2025. Teachers will also receive one-time payments of 2.5 percent in both 2024 and 2025, bringing the three-year total to 21 percent.
- Employees who have been with the district for 21-25 years will also receive a $5,000 increase next year, while those who have at least 26 years of service will receive a $10,000 increase.
- Kindergarten class sizes will be capped at 24 students. Grades 1-3 will be brought down to 25 students per class by the 2025-2026 school year. Grades 4-6 will start with 34 students per class this year before coming down to 28 by 2025-2026. Grades 7-8 and high school will start at 37 and decrease to 30.
- Teachers with class sizes exceeding the guidelines by one to three students can receive a $2,500 stipend, while having four or more students extra would result in a $5,000 stipend.
- FUSD’s contribution to the Health Fund will decrease by $2,370 initially, and then increase annually starting in 2026.
- Employees hired after July 1, 2005 will receive retirement benefits at 57.5 years old and with at least 20 years of service in the district. Healthcare benefits will also be provided until employees can receive Medicare.
- Starting in 2024, teachers will receive an additional $500 annually for supplies and materials.
What they’re saying: Nelson thanked the students for enduring a difficult start to the school year as the threat of a strike loomed over the district.
- “It’s been a tough start to the school year,” Nelson said. “This is a tough way to begin. Our students have been the innocent bystanders waiting through the difficulties of negotiations, carrying that stress. You need to know that this deal is really about you. It’s our joint commitment to avoid a strike because there’s really nothing more important than making sure our students have the opportunity to be in school every day all the time.”
- Bonilla said that the union got everything it wanted in the deal, just not to the degree on every aspect that it was asking for, and he said the agreement will make transformational change in the district.
- “No doubt there needs to be some healing for everybody in this, but really that healing will transform this district and hopefully have a different culture, collaborative culture that is authentic moving forward,” Bonilla said.