District OKs Budget, 3-Year Pact With Teachers

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District board approved both its annual budget and a three-year contract with the teachers union at its meeting Tuesday night.

The new contract restructures the entire salary scale, which had teacher salaries varying so wildly that they ranged from 40% below to 18% above the average at comparable districts in the county.

"We will no longer be a farm club where teachers leave after five or six years and make $10,000 more in neighboring districts," said Linda Mook, president of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers. "It's a major win for the district and our teachers."

District Supt. Robert Barbot agreed that the contract benefits both sides, saying before the final vote that it will help attract teachers "and keep them here long-term."

Union members approved the contract Friday by a vote of 692-16, Mook said. Not all 1,070 teachers in the district belong to the union.

The main points call for teacher raises every year and an adjustment to compensate teachers for degrees they earn while working. The previous contract, approved in the mid-1980s, called for raises every three years instead of annually, like at most districts. Newport-Mesa teachers soon fell behind their peers, and it took the new contract to catch them up, Mook said.

This year, raises will range from 3% to 40%; salaries for 190 teachers will remain the same because they receive more under the old salary structure than they would in the new one. The new salary schedule will cost the district $2.5 million in the coming year and a minimum of $600,000 annually thereafter. The budget also calls for $300,000 in additional benefits for all employees.

The bulk of the district's $110-million budget for 1998-99, more than $90 million, will go toward salaries and benefits for teachers, administrators, office workers and other employees.

The remaining $20 million goes toward books, supplies, contracted services for lecturers, travel, insurance and other costs, capital improvements, equipment and other expenses.

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