School workers agree to bonuses, family leave

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Funds come from examination of budget

WATSONVILLE — Pajaro Valley Unified School District is in the final stages of negotiations with the district’s classified workers, represented by California School Employees Association (CSEA).

According to PVUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Chona Killeen, the workers will get a one-time $1,600 bonus.

They will also get an additional bonus based on how much they work. A full-time employee, for example, will get $1,600, while those who work half time will get $800.

Killeen said the money comes from an aggressive line-by-line examination of the district’s budget, and “zero-based budgeting.” These helped the district reduce its deficit from $19.3 million in March to $1.6 million in September, she said.

Killeen said that rumors that the bonuses came from a loan are untrue.

“It is not a loan,” she said. “It is a one-time, off-schedule bonus.”

If ratified by the union and approved by the board, the bonuses will reduce the ending fund balance, a cost the district is prepared to bear, Killeen said.

“We can definitely afford what we put on the table with CSEA,” she said.

CSEA also agreed to changes to the family leave policy, which aligns the district with state mandates of up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

There was no change to the CSEA members’ health benefits. 

The items have not yet been ratified by the union membership. CSEA will meet with the district Friday for what is expected to be the final time.

At that time, the parties will discuss a new state law that requires businesses and organizations to give new employees time for orientation training. The union is also negotiating the addition of paid holidays.

“I think we’re very close,” Killeen said of the ongoing negotiations.

Killeen said that the district cannot offer raises, despite the larger-than-predicted ending fund balance and reduced deficit.

“Unfortunately we can’t do it in the salary schedule because there is still a deficit and we don’t want to put the district where it can’t be fiscally solvent,” she said.

Killeen praised the union and district negotiations teams for the agreement.

“We worked hard and it wasn’t easy because they were fighting for their membership,” she said. “It was a very collaborative experience. Very productive from the beginning.”

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