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Vista teachers, district reach tentative contract agreement

VISTA — Earlier in the month teachers within the Vista Unified School District began casting votes over whether to strike — a move prompted by the Vista Teachers Association to gauge just where teachers stood on the matter.

The vote came amid stalled negotiations over a new three-year contract, which had been ongoing since last October.

On May 5, with both sides at an impasse, it was announced that a mediator had approved talks to move forward from mediation to fact-finding status.

But on May 12 around 4 p.m. the sides were able to reach a tentative agreement, according to Brett Killeen, VUSD assistant superintendent.

And starting on Monday, the teachers association began voting instead on whether to ratify the new contract for the 2014-17 school years.

Killeen said that, assuming the teachers ratify the contract, it will be presented at the next board meeting May 27.

The fact-finding session was slated to begin shortly after the mediator had made the decision.

“Since we were able to reach an agreement prior to that, then fact-finding never took place,” Killeen said.

He added that he thought the tentative agreement came out of a mutual desire. “I think all along, even though we went through the impasse process, both parties were obviously interested in reaching an agreement and thankfully that took place, and so there were conversations happening right after we were certified to fact-finding between the two parties,” he said.

A statement posted on the Vista Teachers Association website read, “The bargaining team and the Executive Board feels this is a fair and reasonable contract and that the conditions we demanded (lower class sizes, protect prep time in elementary and health benefits were met) and we are happy with the Tentative agreement.”

Had the fact-finding program started, a panel of three officials (a representative from the district, the association and a mutually-agreed upon mediator) would have had 45 days to complete the report.

Killeen said the association’s vote over striking didn’t have any influence on reaching the agreement.

“I think the agreement that we’ve reached represents a win-win scenario, and I think it’s good for teachers, I think it’s good for kids, I think it’s good for Vista Unified, so we’re pleased with it,” he said.

Several calls for comment to the Teachers Association weren’t returned.