Saugus teachers, staff agree to raise

On Tuesday, the Saugus Union finalized the details of its upcoming Governing Board election election.

The teachers and staff of the Saugus Union School District are expected to receive an increase in compensation and health care benefits following a tentative agreement between the district and various collective bargaining groups.

The agreements, according to the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting, are between the district, the Saugus Teachers Association and the Classified School Employees Association, as well as management, confidential, child development and unrepresented employees.

Staff and faculty are all expected to see a 2 percent raise in the upcoming school year, along with a $50 monthly increase to the health benefits cap or a $25 monthly increase to cash-in-lieu for employees who waive medical benefits, pending approval from the board at Tuesday’s district meeting.

The raises will begin on July 1 and cost the district slightly more than $1.8 million, leading board President Christopher Trunkey to believe, “everybody will be happy,” he said.

The district was able to offer as much of a raise as possible while remaining responsible, he added.

The raise is nearly the same as the one the Castaic Union School District approved for its teachers in April, which shows up as a 4 percent raise for teachers this year, and then going forward, it will result in a regular 3 percent raise in the salary schedule.

Saugus teachers and administrators have been quite vocal at many district meetings in the past months, often voicing concerns about pay, benefits and a general lack of support from the district board.

It seems every week, there is a new speaker sharing stories about the heavy load they are forced to bear.

“I currently have two side jobs in order to make ends meet,” said Maria Blue, the current Teacher of the Year from Emblem Academy. “For some, every hour after school, weekends and breaks are filled with side work to fund their household needs.”

Blue used a metaphor based on the flight of aircraft, with the concept of “drag” representing the burden teachers are forced to bear — touching on sentiments that were echoed by other teachers in recent months during board meetings.

Despite the tension, Trunkey said the negotiations were similar to those of years past and “reflect the continuing and great relationship we have with our collective unions.”

He added: “We’re all really looking forward to starting next school year.”

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