Jessica Cejnar / Monday, April 6 @ 3:45 p.m. / Community, Education, Emergencies

Del Norte Unified Settles with Union Representing Classified Staff; District To Start Heat-and-Serve Meals Tomorrow

Families line up outside Lighthouse Community Church on March 19 as Del Norte Unified School District staff and volunteers give out meals and work. Photo: Jessica Cejnar

Though negotiations with teachers continue, Del Norte Unified School District and union representatives for its classified staff reached a tentative agreement on its 2019-20 contract.

This tentative agreement comes DNUSD classified and certificated staff figure out how to meet students’ needs in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a joint communique announcing the agreement, the Board of Trustees recognized those on the “frontlines of keeping our schools safe and clean and our children fed.”

DNUSD Human Resources Director Coleen Parker and George Mercado, president of CSEA Great Northern Chapter 178, signed the agreement Wednesday.

In a written statement to the media, union representatives stated they appreciate recognition the Board of Trustees gave to their work:

“Our hope is that as we move forward, the district and CSEA continue to work together to value and respect the classified staff that can always be relied upon to show up on the frontlines everyday, in every circumstance, to support our schools and our community. These unprecedented times have proven that classified school employees are ESSENTIAL.”

Under the agreement, DNUSD authorizes a 3 percent increase across the CSEA salary schedule retroactive to July 1, 2019. The district would also increase its contribution to classified staff’s health benefits by $100, capping it at $9,600. The agreement also authorizes a one-time 0.5 percent pay supplement for staff normally contracted to work between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.

According to the agreement, DNUSD and CSEA representatives will negotiate how that 0.5 percent pay supplement would be applied.

This stipulation came about as a result of the Board of Trustees’ emergency decision on March 15 to close schools as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Parker told the Wild Rivers Outpost. She noted that classified staff, particularly those in the nutrition services department, began working 10 to 12 hour shifts to keep kids fed.

“They’ve really had to step up and do things that are more difficult,” she said. “And they’re out on the front lines making sure kids are getting fed. They’ve served more meals than they’ve ever served.”

Since schools closed on March 16, staff have served 57,971 meals as of Monday, Nutrition Services Director Deborah Kravitz told the Outpost. Staff served 4,044 meals just on Monday, she said.

According to Parker, both parties agreed to a 3 percent raise on classified staff salaries due to increases in minimum wage. This year, California minimum wage increased to $13 an hour. Next year it will increase to $14 and in 2022, minimum wage will be $15 an hour, Parker said.

DNUSD’s initial proposal, presented to the Board of Trustees on Jan. 9, was a salary increase of 2 percent for classified staff, Parker said.

According to CSEA’s “message to the media,” the union proposed 3 percent salary increase and $100 increase in the district’s health and welfare contribution was equal to DNUSD’s last offer to the Del Norte Teachers Association.

CSEA’s proposal also included a “me too” clause stipulating that if the district settles for a compensation increase greater than 3.14 percent with either DNTA or the classified confidential unrepresented work group, the difference would also apply to classified staff’s salary schedule.

The DNUSD Board of Trustees offered the 0.5 percent one-time increase in lieu of the “me too” clause, according to CSEA’s statement to the Outpost.

Kravitz pointed out that though Del Norte Unified is starting its spring break next week, staff will still provide meals to kids at schools and on the bus. However, since April 13 is a holiday, Kravitz said, staff will provide two sets of breakfasts and two sets of lunch on Friday.

“School will be closed on Monday and pick back up on the 14th,” she said.


Tentative Agreement Between DNUSD and CSEA

Meal Heating Instructions


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