• School District, Teachers Sign Two-Year Contract, Agree to Calendar Deal

    by Mitch Lehman

    The San Marino Unified School District’s board of education approved an agreement with the San Marino Teachers Association at their meeting on Tuesday, agreeing to a contract that includes a 1.65% salary schedule increase, a realignment of longevity steps, two additional professional development days as well as two additional instructional days.

    The board voted unanimously to approve the deal, which includes a two-year agreement on the school year calendar – “the first time I can recall that being accomplished,” according to Superintendent Loren Kleinrock.

    The new contract includes an across-the-board raise for all certificated teachers regardless of experience or education level, but helps bring the pay rates for veteran teachers to a more competitive level.

    In planning for new and upcoming state standards – also known as Common Core State Standards – and a new testing system to be implemented in the 2014-15 school year, the district and teachers union “worked cooperatively and proactively to plan for additional training and student instruction,” in the words of Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Julie Boucher.

    Common Core State Standards is a national program designed to assure that all students who matriculate to four-year colleges are better prepared. Kleinrock said it is a program used by other industrialized countries.

    “Virtually all states have signed up for this,” said Kleinrock, who explained that Common Core State Standards place an emphasis on critical thinking, teaching students the  ability to to defend an argument, use primary sources, make a case. Students will need to know more than just filling in a bubble and hope they guess correctly. The tests will have less breadth, more depth, It’s almost like a law school approach. There will be much more emphasis on non-fiction in the English disciplines.”

    The new contract calls for extra paid training days for teachers to comply with the new testing.

    Benefit adjustments were made and the district realized savings with plan and provider changes for the 2013-14 school year, according to Boucher. Employees will continue to pay a portion of their benefit costs.

    As part of the agreement, a two-year academic calendar was approved bringing the total work year to 182 instructional days and 190 days of total service, according to  Kleinrock.

    “The San Marino Unified School District and the San Marino Teachers Association are committed to continuing to provide quality teaching and learning,” said Boucher. “By way of this agreement, there will be opportunities for advanced training for teachers and support staff as well as additional time to prepare students for the new state standards and tests.”

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