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Teachers agree to just 1.8% cut in their pay
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The Manteca Unified School District and the Manteca Educators Association came to a tentative agreement last Tuesday.

It’s not quite the across-the-board 5 percent reduction as voted by the school board a few months ago as part of the plan to offset the $23.5 million budget shortfall for the upcoming year.

Rather, MEA’s side letter agreement included reducing the work day of some 1,300 teachers by three days and eliminating the high school department chairs for both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.

This equals approximately 1.8 percent, according to Superintendent Jason Messer.

“Because this tentative agreement does not secure the full 5 percent reduction in compensation from certified staff, the district will be absorbing the remaining budget by reducing the certificated staff for the 2009-10 school year,” he said.

Manteca Unified does plan to staff all classrooms in accordance with the MEA agreement.

“Between now and the commencement of the 2009-10 school year, the board will look to identify staffing adjustments and / or the replacement of programs which will have to be cut because of these staffing ratios,” Messer noted.

Trustees have made it clear that their goal is to minimize or prevent the elimination of jobs for the upcoming school year.

But at the same time the district must comply with the state Department of Education’s May 15 deadline. Included are final layoff notices relative to certificated staff members who received preliminary layoff notices or “pink slips” last month.

Messer indicated that the re-staffing process has already begun at the administrative level. Site administrators, for example, have been asked to identify key programs which can be continued coupled with those that can be reduced or even eliminated for the 2009-10 school year.

“Administration is clear that our goal is to plan for and implement the best educational program we can, given the staffing formulas we must work within to meet the financial obligations of the district,” Messer said.

He added: “We remain focused on delivering to all students a strong basic education in a culturally proficient and safe learning environment.”