A settlement has been reached between the Hemet Unified School District and the Hemet Teachers Association. The mediated fact-finding process began Monday, Jan. 26. Two days later, late Wednesday afternoon, a proposed settlement was reached.

HTA members ratified the tentative agreement Thursday evening. Nearly 95 percent of the HTA membership supported the agreement, which is for three years, beginning July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2016. It was on the agenda for the HUSD trustees meeting Tuesday, Feb. 3.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” said HUSD Superintendent Dr. Barry Kayrell.

“I predict that it will pass,” forecast Vic Scavarda, HUSD director representing Idyllwild. “I know that the board is very happy with the outcome, because it helps out some the huge class sizes, especially in the lower grade levels. This is also the first time there’s been an attempt to address the large classes at the high schools. It also gives our hard-working teachers some extra money in their paychecks.”

The highlights of the new contract include an 8-percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2014. Another 2-percent increase will be effective July 1, 2015. For example, the starting salary of teacher with only a bachelor’s degree will increase from the current annual amount of $44,161 to $47,694. The salary at the top of the payscale, (step 22) would go from $87,860 to $94,889.

Health and welfare benefits will increase $1,500, to a total of $10,600. This year’s increase will be a one-time cash payment, but next fiscal year the benefits schedule will be increased.

The instructional day will increase 12 minutes beginning next fall. Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kramer said, “We’ll have to change the bell schedule. But it could add two minutes per class for middle-school students.”

The total cost of the contract in the current year will be about $8.4 million and another $3.3 million next year. Kayrell did admit that Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2015-16 budget proposal, released two weeks ago, helped the district come to a settlement.

Class sizes also were addressed in the tentative agreement, but Kramer did not expect those to have an effect on the local school.

“As with all negotiations, everyone gets some of what they want; but, no one gets all of what they want. The advantage of having a [Tentative Agreement] is that we can all focus on our primary goal of helping students achieve academically,” said Kayrell. “When you get to the very end of the process it necessitates this kind of action — a little more creativity and compromise.”