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School District Reaches Tentative Agreement with Los Altos Teachers Association

Details of the agreement will not be released until the next board meeting, so it is unclear what the impact on the school budget will be.

The has reached a tentative agreement for concessions from the Los Altos Teachers Association, Doug Smith, the clerk of the school board, said Thursday night.

Although details will not be presented until the next board meeting, the sole issue was health care benefits and how much teachers pay for them, Smith said. He added that the county average for school employee contributions to health care was 17 percent, but at the Los Altos School District, the employee contribution was 5 percent. Thus, there was room for negotiation.

"Teachers had no obligation to renegotiate their contract this year," Smith said. "They've worked with us, and I think we need to acknowledge that."

This agreement is one of three critical elements needed to solving the district's budget problem. co-president Joe Seither had described those elements as parents, community and staff. The first two had made substantial commitments, in Seither's opinion, and that left staff as the final question.

It was unclear Thursday how much this tentative agreement would affect the school budget. At one point, the district had as much as a $6.5 million gap to fill for the 2011-12 year, but the shortfall has shrunk over the last few months, with the passage of the Measure E parcel tax and more optimistic assumptions of additional revenue from the state.

Although there were no details, it appeared that the district was closer to further resolving that shortfall.

Earlier in the week, parents and teachers both appeared at Monday's board meeting, expressing frustration as rumors swirled about the limited progress of the negotiations. Following that tense board meeting, negotiators met on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.

After the board met in closed session Thursday night, the negotiating team convened to put the tentative agreement into writing, Smith said.

The written agreement will presented at the next board meeting, he added. The board could opt to call a special meeting on Monday, because the next regularly scheduled meeting is not until June 20.

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