FUSD, FTA close the book on salary negotiations

The Farmersville Unified School District board of trustees at a meeting on May 15, where the district voted to ratify the agreement between FUSD and Farmersville Teachers Association.(Karis Caddell)

Farmersville Unified School District, Teachers Association ratify pay agreement after months of negotiation over wages and teacher retention rates

FARMERSVILLE – The Farmersville Unified School District and Farmersville Teachers Association have officially come to terms on wage negotiations, a development that may come with some potential layoffs in the future due to budget constraints.

The agreement was ratified by the Board of Trustees at its meeting on May 14. Now that both the Farmersville Unified School District (FUSD) and the Farmersville Teachers Association (FTA) have approved it, the salary negotiations for the 2023-24 fiscal year have officially come to a close.

“I’m all in favor of fair wages. When there’s the willingness (to come to an agreement) and the (financial) ability to follow it up – great,” FUSD Superintendent Dr. Sergio Chavez said. “This year we didn’t have the ability, so we had to carve and really get creative.”

On April 16, the FTA voted it would strike from the district following months of disagreements on teacher pay, but just before the action was taken, the two entities went to the negotiations table one last time with a mediator in an attempt to find a solution. On April 22, the organizations announced they’d come to a three-year agreement as opposed to a one-year term.

Chavez explained that, although he is happy to come to an agreement that works, there is a potential downside as the terms of the new agreement could result in other cuts for the district.

“Our initial offer of 2% was in order to minimize any layoffs, so the reverse is also true now,” Chavez said. “Now that the offer is higher, we may have potential layoffs in the future.”

As reported by The Sun-Gazette on April 24, this agreement is giving Farmersville teachers a 5% pay increase for 2023-2024. Since the pay increase is effective as of July 1, 2023, the increase will be retroactive to that date. Then teachers’ pay will increase another 2% effective Jan. 1, 2025.

Although the entities came to a three-year agreement as opposed to a one-year term, reports state that the district and FTA can renegotiate salary and benefits, as well as three items each, for the 2025-2026 school year. The agreement also recognizes that both the district and union might need to make additional changes to the agreement in the future to sustain the promised salary increase.

The agreement doesn’t just set new salaries, it also addresses the ongoing concerns throughout the negotiation process from the teachers that students were being harmed by low teacher retention rates in FUSD.

In an interview with The Sun-Gazette from January 2023, FTA president Richard Dybas explained that the association hoped to improve retention rates as they negotiated the pay for the coming school year. By his observations, teachers coming into FUSD are only working for the district to get two or three years of experience under their belt before moving onto a different district, essentially “learning and leaving” and hurting the education of Farmersville students in the long run.

“It’s hurting our students,” Dybas said. “If our teachers stay, our students are gonna have a better education.”

But through this agreement, the FTA and the district agreed to address the concern in the form of a group, whose sole purpose is to brainstorm solutions for teacher retention. The idea is that this will help address the main concerns the FTA expressed throughout negotiations.

“It wouldn’t be under the auspices of negotiations, it would be under the auspices of brainstorming and coming up with some strategies to be able to retain teachers,” Chavez said.

The entities also chose to change the language in the collective bargaining agreement to include “developing as an educator” in the teachers evaluation. This language allows teachers to be evaluated based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.

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