Sac City Unified Seeks Impasse Determination to Resolve Issues Impacting Continuity of Learning During the 2021-2022 School Year
Sacramento, CA – Today the Sacramento City Unified School District declared that it has reached an impasse in its efforts to negotiate with the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) over issues related to reopening schools for in-person instruction and independent study during the 2021-22 school year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The district has submitted a request for an impasse determination from the Public Employment Relations Board.
“The COVID pandemic has created unique challenges to meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students,” said Jorge A. Aguilar, Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent. “Sac City Unified has proposals to mitigate the challenges brought on by state and national staffing shortages and other urgent needs to protect continuity of learning for all students this school year that we cannot implement without agreement from our labor partner. We hope that the statutory impasse procedures and the assistance of a mediator will facilitate a prompt resolution of these issues.”
At the direction of the Sac City Unified School Board of Education, the district has been attempting since last July to problem-solve staffing shortages and address other challenges that impact student learning for the 2021-22 school year.
“The state and federal government have allocated critical one-time resources to help school districts overcome COVID-related challenges so that student learning and important educational services can continue during the pandemic,” said Christina Pritchett, President of the Sacramento City Unified School Board. “Sac City Unified has proposed a number of creative approaches to use these funds responsibly to address the challenges that our district faces this year, including a severe staffing shortage. We are already four months into the current school year. We hope that the declaration of impasse will allow the issues that must be negotiated to be resolved quickly in the best interest of Sac City Unified students.”
Even though the district’s schools have been open since September 2, 2021 and are complying with all recommendations and requirements of state law and state and local health officials, negotiations with SCTA have continued over issues related to COVID-19, reopening schools for in-person learning and independent study consistent with Assembly Bill 130, and addressing the district’s chronic staffing shortage, including:
- Continuity of instructional programs
- Extra pay for substitutes
- Extra pay for nurses
- Extra pay for teachers who volunteer to take on additional independent study students
- Health and Safety practices to mitigate transmission of COVID-19
- Deploying district training specialists in classrooms with continuing teacher vacancies at high needs schools
- Implementation of the District’s vaccination resolution
Despite exchanging numerous proposals and making limited progress toward agreement regarding various issues, the parties have not reached agreement on any of the COVID-19 and reopening issues that have been raised, and substantial differences remain between the parties’ positions regarding significant components of the proposals.
For example, the District and SCTA have not been able to reach a resolution regarding changes to the Independent Study program, as mandated by AB 130, or to provide extra pay to teachers who volunteer to take on additional students, or flexibility to provide continuity of instruction through short-term independent study using simultaneous in-person and remote instruction for students who are required to quarantine or for any school or class closure.
In addition, the District and SCTA have not reached agreement regarding proposals on compliance with public health guidance and recommendations for schools regarding COVID-19. Specifically, the District has indicated a commitment to comply with updated public health guidance and recommendations, while SCTA continues to propose language on outdated physical distancing and risk level guidelines. Negotiations have resulted in little progress regarding these points.
Finally, the parties have not been able to come to agreement on how to address serious staffing shortages, including utilizing District Training Specialists to fill in for high need vacant positions, providing extra pay for substitute teachers (see District proposal and SCTA proposal), and extra pay for District nurses to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing and other COVID-related duties after regular work hours.
In a negotiations process that is separate from the negotiations over reopening schools for the 2021-22 school year, the Sacramento City Unified School District is working to reach agreement with the SCTA on a successor contract to the previous contract between the District and SCTA. The previous contract expired in 2019.
For additional background, please see the November 5, 2021 Negotiations Update on the SCUSD website at https://www.scusd.edu/negotiations-updates, and the Sacramento City Unified School District’s Declaration of Impasse Submitted to Public Employment Relations Board submitted on December 10, 2021