The Rowland Unified School Board has approved a $147 million budget for 2014-15 with a $9 million deficit. That amount could increase millions more if both sides approve the 8 percent raise reached in Tuesday’s tentative agreement with the teachers’ union.
In March, Rowland teachers declared an impasse in the stalled contract negotiations. The Association of Rowland Educators asked the state to send a mediator to handle further negotiations.
The school district announced the tentative agreement on Thursday. They said it had been reached 8 p.m. Tuesday during the fourth mediation session.
Under the multi-year agreement, teachers will receive a 4 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2013, as well as another salary increase of 4 percent effective July 1, 2014.
The school district’s maximum contribution to employee health and welfare benefits will also increase to $11,000, effective January 1, 2015. And there will be a $1,500 cash-in-lieu payment for eligible employees who elect to opt out of the district’s health and welfare benefits coverage.
“The association is pleased that after a very long struggle that a fair agreement has been reached and can be sent to membership for a vote,” said ARE President Shay Lohman.
“I am thrilled that the teams reached an agreement yesterday,” said Interim Superintendent John Roach. “The school year will begin with all employees focused on meeting the needs of our students.”
During the negotiations, the school board had to approve a budget for the coming school year, which will now have to be amended when the teachers’ new contract is approved.
Ajay Mohindra, Rowland’s interim chief financial officer, pointed out that 82 percent of the revenue next year will come from the new Local Control Funding Formula. Another 10 percent will come from the state, with the federal government kicking in 7 percent.
Total revenues should top $138 million, up from the $133 million received in the last fiscal year. As the new formula kicks in, revenues are projected to grow to $146 million in 2015-16 and more than $149 million in 2016-17.
But Rowland will still have to draw from its ending balance of $52 million to cover the double-digit deficit. That will draw reserves down to $41 million by the end of the next fiscal year, even more depending on the salary settlement.
“Nearly half of our expenditures is for teachers’ salaries and benefits,” Mohindra explained. “When you add the other classified salaries and benefits, that’s 79 percent of our budget.”
Read more in Rich Irwin’s story BUDGET.