San Francisco Schools Eye Parcel Tax After Agreement on Teacher Pay

Students in class at San Francisco International High School on March 9, 2017. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

The San Francisco Unified School District and the union representing its teachers and school employees are aiming for a 2018 ballot measure to raise money for teacher pay.

The push for a new parcel tax comes after the district and United Educators of San Francisco, which represents more than 6,000 SFUSD employees, announced a tentative agreement on Saturday over teacher compensation.

"This contract is a step forward, but it’s not the end of the struggle to provide sufficient funding for public education," said Lita Blanc, president of United Educators of San Francisco.

The agreement staved off a strike authorization vote that was set by the union for Wednesday. Teachers in the district had voiced concerns that their pay wasn't enough to afford to live in high-cost San Francisco.

Included in the new contract is an 11 percent salary increase for teachers over the next three years and an overall compensation boost of 16 percent.

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Now, the two sides will work together toward getting a parcel tax measure on the June 2018 ballot to fund an additional salary increase of at least 2 percent.

Superintendent Vincent Matthews praised the agreement but said that the teacher raises would stretch the district's resources.

“If we are going to move forward with increased compensation, then we have to look at either increasing our revenue base or coming together around sacrifices that we have to make," Matthews said.

He said the district will look into potential budget cuts even if the parcel tax passes.

Any potential cuts are likely to be met with resistance from the union. Proposals to eliminate sabbaticals and paid prep periods for AP courses were met with fierce, and ultimately successful, opposition during the current round of talks.

Instead, union officials said any cuts should come from SFUSD administration.

“We think there are cuts to be made centrally," Blanc said, "but not at the school sites and not in the classrooms."

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Blanc said the new agreement is likely to be ratified in the next month.

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