Alpine teachers union, district reach deal

ALPINE - A three-day strike by teachers in the Alpine School District in San Diego's East County region ended today when the two sides agreed to an 18-month contract.

The instructors and district battled over proposed cuts in salary and healthcare benefits that were needed by the district to balance its budget.

The Alpine Teachers Association reported that 96 percent of members ratified the deal, which calls for a 5.5 percent pay reduction. The original salary reduction was 7.58 percent.

The teachers union also said the pay cut might be smaller if state funding turns out to be more than expected. The teachers had argued that the district's financial projections underestimated how much money would be
received from the state.

The cap on annual health benefits will be $9,500 per employee, rather than the $8,000 wanted by the district, according to the association. The benefits had been $13,500 per year.

"We are very relieved to return to our classrooms to work with our students," said ATA President Gayle Malone. "Teachers offered cuts all along, but we had to stand up to keep them from being devastating."

She said the settlement, though painful, can serve as a basis toward a better relationship with the district. The deal will need final approval by the school board.

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