Schools reopened Monday in the Sacramento City Unified School District after teachers and other workers reached a tentative agreement that increases pay and doles out one-time stipends, ending a crippling strike that has closed schools for eight days.
School district officials announced the tentative agreement Sunday night with the Sacramento City Teachers Assn. and SEIU Local 1021, a union representing bus drivers, instructional aides and custodians, and other classified staff.
The teachers strike in California’s capital that began March 23 — affecting 43,000 students and 76 schools — was driven by what teachers and other district classified staff say were severe staffing shortages, heavy workloads and concerns over pay. The strike came as districts nationwide face similar crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including staffing shortages, exhaustion and the pressures of academic recovery.
The tentative agreement includes a 4% cost-of-living-increase pay adjustment, thousands of dollars in one-time stipends and improved dental and vision healthcare plans — changes that address the drivers of a classified staff shortage, the unions said. The agreement with the teachers union also includes a cost-of-living pay adjustment, one-time stipends, additional paid COVID-19 sick days and increased pay for substitute teachers and three additional days of professional development, among other stipulations.
“The community heard their stories, stuck with us, and kept pressuring the superintendent and school board to do the right thing by its workers,” said Karla Faucett, president of SEIU Local 1021.
Sacramento City Unified Supt. Jorge A. Aguilar said in a statement that the agreements with the labor unions “demonstrate how highly we value our employees” returning to school on Monday. Aguilar also acknowledged the mass shooting over the weekend in Sacramento in a nightclub district where six people died and 12 others were wounded.
“Schools serve as safe havens and centers of emotional and mental health support for many students,” Aguilar said. “This tragedy underscores the importance of the return of our students and staff on Monday, and I look forward to welcoming our students back.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.