San Ramon board of education, teachers union 'hopeful' agreement can be reached

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland may have settled its teacher strike, but now another East Bay school district is trying to avoid one in their community.

It's been a day of negotiations in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, where there are some indications a tentative agreement is near.

More than 1,600 teachers, nurses, counselors, and librarians are not on strike in the San Ramon Valley. Well, not yet.

RELATED: Contentious post-strike board meeting in Oakland after $21.7 million in budget cuts approved

"I hope that we are closer to reaching a tentative agreement, but we are in it for the long haul," said Ann Katsburg, the President of the San Ramon Valley Education Association, which voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, if a settlement can't be reached.

The issues here are much the same as in Oakland. Pay, class size and support services for students are problems for both, even though the districts themselves differ greatly.

In Oakland, an independent state auditor found that the district has been undermined for years of financial mismanagement.

More recently, the charter school movement has significantly diverted students and resources away from Oakland public schools.

But Oakland, San Ramon Valley, and every other district have one thing in common: the fact that California is near the bottom in the country when it comes to school funding.

And despite its affluence, San Ramon Valley gets less money per student than most other districts in the state.

"We're actually the fourth lowest funded unified school district in the state of California," said Elizabeth Graswich, the spokesperson for SRVUSD.

Unlike Oakland, San Ramon Valley schools get tremendous support from parents,17 million dollars per year.

RELATED: Oakland Unified officials say 6-percent of students attending class during strike, losing $1-million per day

"That goes to create things we wouldn't have otherwise," explained Graswich. "We have music programs and science programs at our elementary schools for example."

With an average salary of more than $77,000, San Ramon Valley teachers make about $13,000 more per year than those in Oakland.

But in both places, that's not enough for most to live where they work.

"So even at the highest paid teacher salary," said Katzburg, "we're unable to afford to live and work in our community."

San Ramon School District's Board of Education and the teachers' union are hopeful the two sides will reach a tentative agreement during a scheduled negotiations session.
The San Ramon Valley Education Association, the union representing teachers and the school district met on Monday develop a framework to get back to the negotiations table on Wednesday.

Last week, 98 percent of San Ramon Valley Unified teachers voted in favor of authorizing a strike if necessary.
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