Glendale Unified eliminates furlough days for now

Glendale Unified has reached a deal with its teachers union that eliminates three furlough days scheduled for the current school year, the first of which was set to take place in just eight weeks.

Assistant Supt. for Human Resources David Samuelson called it “very fair agreement” that was the result of a “very collaborative process.”

“The results are going to benefit our schools, our community and our kids in particular,” he said. “We are moving forward.”

Two of the unpaid furlough days were eliminated entirely and one was deferred to the 2012-13 school year, Samuelson said Wednesday following hours of negotiations. There were already four furlough days on the books next year, bringing the new total for next year to five.

The dates of the 2012-13 furlough days have not yet been set, said Samuelson, adding that it is the district’s goal to eliminate all five days outright if the Glendale Unified budget outlook improves.

The agreement affects more than the teacher corps. Two of the three days — March 16 and April 24 —were regular school days, meaning that students would have lost significant instructional time. The third day, June 15, was a staff-only day.

Each furlough day is worth $458,450 to the district. For teachers, that registers as roughly $220 to $440, depending on where an individual is on the pay scale, said Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson.

Multiply that amount by three and teachers stood to lose a significant sum, she added.

“We are very pleased that the teachers will have no furlough days this year,” Carlson said.

The deal follows months of back-and-forth between district and union leadership about what to do with the original seven furlough days, first negotiated in August 2010 in the face of serious budget cuts.

Carlson asked for them to be eliminated entirely, calling on the district to make good on its promise that it would scrap them if Measure S, the $270-million school bond, passed. The measure was approved by voters in April of last year.

District officials said they needed to keep the furlough days on the books until the state’s budget outlook improved, and instead proposed deferring them. They had reached a similar deal with the district’s classified staff bargaining unit.

The exchange became acrimonious at times. In November, 100 Glendale teachers showed up at the school board meeting to put pressure on district officials. And board members did not hesitate to publicly criticize Carlson during months of meetings.

But those sharp words seemed largely forgotten this week, with both camps saying they are focused on the future.

“I think this agreement not only is beneficial for our students, and teachers and our community, but it also, I hope, begins a new era of collaboration between the parties,” Carlson said.

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