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Oakland teachers strike ends with tentative deal for raise

2 years 7 months 3 weeks ago Friday, March 01 2019 Mar 1, 2019 March 01, 2019 4:05 PM March 01, 2019 in News - AP National

By JOCELYN GECKER
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Teachers in Oakland ended their week-long strike Friday after agreeing to a tentative contract.

The Oakland Unified School District said the four-year agreement calls for teachers to receive an 11 percent salary increase and one-time 3 percent bonus. The district also agreed to reduce class sizes and hire more student support staff, including special education teachers and counselors.

"The contract will help ensure more teachers stay in Oakland and that more come to teach in our classrooms and support our students," said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

Oakland's 3,000 teachers walked off the job Feb. 21 to demand higher pay, smaller class sizes and more school resources.

Union officials from the Oakland Education Association said in a statement Friday that the contract deal marked "a win in every major proposal" the union made. Teachers are expected to vote on the agreement this weekend, the statement said.

The city's 86 schools were open during the strike, staffed by a skeleton crew of substitutes and administrators, but most students stayed away in support of their striking teachers.

The walkout affected 36,000 students.

The Oakland Education Association said educators were forced to strike because administrators had not listened to their demands for two years. Teachers had been working without a contract since 2017.

Among their demands was a 12 percent retroactive raise covering 2017 to 2020 to compensate for what they say are among the lowest salaries for public school teachers in the expensive San Francisco Bay Area.

A starting salary for teachers at Oakland schools is $46,500 a year and the average salary in the district is $63,000 a year.

The union has also called for the district to scrap plans to close as many as 24 schools that serve primarily African-American and Latino students. It fears more students will be lost to charter schools that drain more than $57 million a year from the district.

The union rejected two earlier proposals from the district, which initially offered a 5 percent raise covering 2017 to 2020.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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