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Lucia Mar labor talks produce tentative agreement 

Almost a year of negotiations concluded late in the day Jan. 31 with a tentative agreement between district officials and the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association.

The settlement gives South County educators a base salary increase of 10.5 percent over two years, more money for the newest teachers, and an additional 10 percent in stipends for extra duties this year.

"We are very pleased that we have reached this agreement," superintendent Deborah Flores wrote in a faxed statement. "In our view, the terms of this agreement represent the best settlement possible."

"This is a big step in the right direction for the teachers and students of our district," union president Kevin Statom said.

After coming to an agreement, the negotiating teams took the terms of the accord back to their respective camps for approval. The Lucia Mar school board met in closed session on Feb. 2 to review the tentative contract and is expected to ratify it later this month. Meanwhile, the union Executive Board voted unanimously on Feb. 1 to approve the contract, which was then passed by a popular vote of the union membership the following Monday.

The county board of trustees will give the matter final review at its March 6 meeting.

The two sides hit an impasse in October over the district's stated inability to accommodate the union's demand for a three-year deal with more competitive cost of living adjustments. The union complained that the salary gap between Lucia Mar and neighboring districts had grown so wide that experienced teachers were defecting at an increasing rate.

Mediator Tony Butka arrived in mid-January to help resolve the discord. The first mediated session finished without a contract but, according to union leaders, brought the district to the table on the extended contract.


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