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Striking Oakland teachers, school district reach tentative agreement

Posted at 8:58 PM, Mar 01, 2019

The Oakland Unified School District and striking teachers have come to an agreement after a seven-day strike, the district and the teachers' union, the Oakland Education Association, said Friday.

"I think that it is going to be a joyous experience on Monday when we return to the classroom," Keith Brown, president of the teachers' union, said.

He said the strike was just a first step in a movement to "fully fund education."

"The fight is not over," he said, referring to legislation before California lawmakers.

The contract won't be official unless union members ratify it in the next 24 hours, but the OEA sounded optimistic, with a news release calling it "a historic contract with a win in every major proposal we made."

Brown praised the agreement.

"This is an important victory that the OUSD is now making sure that there are investments in student support," Brown told reporters.

The California school district issued its own news release hailing the pact .

The district says the new contract "provides a total compensation increase of 14% -- an 11% on-going salary increase with a one-time 3% bonus for educators. It also reduces class sizes and maintains the fiscal solvency of the school district."

"We cannot fix decades of chronic underinvestment in education with a single contract, but this is an important first step," Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in the release, which indicated teachers would return to class Monday should they approve the pact.

The teachers went on strike February 21, saying they are unable to afford the soaring cost of living near Silicon Valley .

The district said it barely has enough money to take care of its low-income students -- 75% qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The union's news release said the four-year contract will also bring a five-month pause in school closures, lower caseloads for special education teachers and a cap on charter schools.

The school district serves 37,000 students.