Contact: Dr. Joe Quarles or Rick Bagley

310-450-8338, Ext. 220


December 5, 2000

SMMUSD Board Settles with Employee Groups

The Board of Education of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) has reached a tentative contract settlement with both the 830-member Santa Monica- Malibu Classroom Teachers' Association (SMMCTA) and the 650-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 660. The tentative agreements culminate a contract negotiations process begun early last Spring.

In addition to negotiating numerous changes in contract language, the Board and its representatives worked individually with each employee group to develop compensation agreements that will help SMMUSD salaries stay competitive with surrounding school districts. "Our students deserve the best and the brightest educators and support staff," says outgoing Board President Todd Hess, who is leaving his gavel and the Board Room behind when his term expires this month. "We must do everything possible to keep our salaries competitive so we can attract and keep quality staff."

The Board and SEIU, which represents non-teaching staff, have reached a salary agreement that will provide SEIU members with a 3% salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2000 and a 5.33% increase effective January 1, 2001. "We are very pleased with the outcome of our negotiations with the Board," said Renee Anderson, negotiations chairperson for SEIU and long-time SMMUSD employee. The agreement keeps salaries competitive with other Districts in Los Angeles County.

However, unlike the salaries of non-teaching support staff, many of SMMUSD's teachers' salaries are lagging in comparison to those in other LA County districts. With many districts giving salary increases at the double-digit level, it is imperative that the District adjust the teachers' salary schedule to maintain our quality teaching staff. Harry Keiley, President of SMMCTA notes, "It has taken years for us to get in this position and we recognize that inequities in the salary schedule cannot be fixed overnight." Keiley was also quick to add, "Our work together during these negotiations proves that the Board of Education has taken a huge step in the right direction for our teachers." SMMUSD's teachers will receive a 12% salary increase, effective February 1, 2001. In addition, with this agreement, some adjustments of the teachers' salary schedule are already being implemented as a first step toward bringing all teacher salaries within the top quartile (25%) of all LA County unified school districts.

Community polling has shown that, in terms of education, the number one priority for our community is to attract and retain quality teachers to provide our children with excellence in education.

According to Rick Gates, PTA Council President, "Teachers are the most important part of the education equation; excellence in the classroom depends on them. It is a simple fact that the District must improve teacher compensation dramatically if we are to attract and retain excellent teachers."

The negotiated decision to provide both SEIU and SMMCTA these well-deserved and long overdue salary increases will require some reorganization and the elimination of some current budget expenditures in order to present a balanced budget to the County in the Spring. The compensation settlements for both SEIU and SMMCTA are costly but necessary. The School District would be remiss if it ignored the overwhelming will of the community.

School district and union officials throughout the State are optimistic that additional funds will be allocated to schools for 2001-2002 and beyond, but definite figures will not be available until the State's budget is adopted sometime in the summer - well after the June 30 deadline for local school districts to submit their own budgets to the County. "This is very hard on our employees," says Schmidt, who will retire as Superintendent from SMMUSD in June. "On the one hand we tell them how much they are valued by our efforts to help keep their salaries competitive with surrounding districts. On the other hand, we tell them we may have to implement fairly serious budget cuts to make good on those commitments. It's a double-edged sword and the Board is committed to do everything possible over the next four to six months to identify additional revenue sources.

All parties involved in this process believe that this agreement is the first major step in developing an ongoing professional partnership between the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association (SMMCTA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District administration.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District

1651 16th St., Santa Monica, CA 90404 • 310-450-8338 • fax 310-581-1138 •