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Sebastopol school, teachers union reach tentative contract agreement

A tentative contract agreement has been reached between the Twin Hills School District and its 60-member teachers union after teachers staged a protest over their pay at back-to-school night.

The deal covers both the 2012-13 and current school year and would give teachers a five percent raise for the current school year but no increase last year.

The board of trustees is expected to vote on the deal at a meeting Thursday.

"We believe we can support this agreement," said Barbara Bickford, superintendent of the 1,200-student district in Sebastopol.

The five percent boost is expected to cost the district $250,000 annually after it is applied to classified employees as well as teachers. It is district practice to give all employees, including the superintendent, the same deal reached with teachers, Bickford said.

The raise, if approved, will be in addition to the annual step and column pay raises based on a teacher's experience and education. Those average about two percent annually, Bickford said.

"It will give them a bump, but they are still pretty low within the county, even with the five percent," said Helen O'Donnell, a California Teachers Association representative who helped negotiate the two-year deal.

Entry level teachers in the district earn approximately $37,000 annually. Salaries top out at approximately $68,300 a year.

The deal comes after months of negotiations reached impasse. On Aug. 29, teachers demonstrated at the Twin Hills Charter Middle School back to school night, handing out fliers and holding signs.

"We were very far apart," Bickford said of earlier discussions.


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