San Ramon Teachers, District Don’t Agree on Class Sizes

After 13 hours of negotiations between teachers in San Ramon and their school district, it's possible that the educators could avoid a strike as progress was made and both sides made tentative agreement on most of the union's demands.

While no deal was reached, teachers and the board of San Ramon Valley Unified School District were at the district offices late Wednesday night when they agreed on more benefits for teachers, more work days and money for school nurses and speech pathologists, among other things, according to the San Ramon Valley Education Association.

They were not able to agree upon the class size issue, the union said. Teachers want more nurses, lower counseling ratios, defined teacher librarian ratio and maximums on PE and Special Education.

"We were unable to reach an agreement because management insisted on having the authority to retract all improvements after three years in this article," the union said in a statement.

Teachers, parents and students attending a town hall at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon were hopeful a deal could be reached without a walkout.

"The salary they offered us was just 2 percent spread out over two years," said Ann Katzburg, president of the San Ramon Valley Education Association. "We were asking for 5 percent."

The district says what's happening in San Ramon is reflective of what's going on across the state.

"All of us are facing declining enrollment, which means less revenue and at the same time rising health care and pension costs, with not enough money coming from the state," district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich said.

The teachers union voted last week to approve a strike. Ninety-eight percent of the 1,695 union members said yes to a strike as teachers fight for manageable class sizes, more nurses, librarians, counselors and better pay to accommodate the cost of living in the East Bay.

It wasn't immediately clear when the district and the teachers union will go back to the bargaining table. But if no deal is reached soon, the teachers could go on strike.

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