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By Allison Jarrell

After more than a year of negotiations, the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) announced on Jan. 12 that officials had reached a tentative contract agreement with members of the Capistrano Unified Education Association (CUEA).

CUSD’s chief communications officer Ryan Burris said in a press release that the agreement “will provide the stability of a three-year contract” and allow the “district to continue to operate efficiently while remaining focused on the education of young people.”

Negotiations between CUSD and CUEA had been taking place in closed session since Oct. 13, 2017, and officially stalled back in June. In October, it was announced that mediation had also failed. The first fact-finding session for CUSD and CUEA took place on Dec. 12, and both parties agreed to participate in a second session on Jan. 12. During these sessions, a three-person panel reviewed the arguments and proposals of each side.

CUSD officials released details of the three-year tentative agreement on Wednesday, Jan. 17, including information on salary and benefit increases, an early retirement incentive, and extended day kindergarten.

The agreement “provides teachers a 1 percent ongoing salary increase retroactive to 2016-17, a further 1 percent this year, and a 1 percent contingent increase for the 2018-19 school year, which relies on full implementation of the governor’s budget proposal as described on Jan. 10, 2018.”

Burris said teachers will also see “protection from rising healthcare costs provided through an increase to the HMO medical plans district contribution equal to 0.6 percent for 2017 and 0.9 percent for 2018.”

“For 2019, the district will set aside an additional $2.2 million toward health and welfare benefits if the final adopted state budget is not reduced from the governor’s Jan. 10, 2018 proposed state budget proposal,” Burris said.

In addition, the agreement includes the creation of a Health and Welfare Benefits Committee that will “collaboratively explore opportunities to conserve dollars spent on health and welfare benefits.” The agreement also creates an early retirement incentive for senior certificated staff that is “contingent on participation and cost-neutral to the district.”

CUSD families will also have the option of extended day kindergarten at up to 11 pilot schools this fall and at every district elementary in the fall of 2019.

CUEA officials announced the accord on their website as well, stating that specific details of the agreement are available only through CUEA representatives of each school site. CUEA wrote that “voting should take place sometime within the next week.”

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