The Galt Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees signed off on three union contracts at its April 20 meeting. It also received safety updates, approved a contract to upgrade district drinking fountains, and voted to recognize the appreciation weeks for faculty and staff.

The contracts provide 7-8% salary increases for most unionized employees. In the contract covering certificated members of the Galt Federation of Classified and Certificated Employees (GFCCE), an 8% increase will be added to the salary schedule for years 1-10, and a 7% increase will apply to years 11-26. Various provisions relate to the district’s induction and intern programs, the sick leave system and clarifying language changes. The ongoing salary costs are estimated at $919,000.

Classified GFCCE members will receive a 7% salary increase, and a longevity bonus of $4,500 has been added after 30 years. In a move to attract and retain instructional aides, unit members will receive health and welfare benefits at the maximum level, whereas the level had previously been based on hours worked. Eleven-month employees will receive 11 sick days per year instead of 10. The ongoing salary costs are estimated at $231,000.

The agreement with California School Employees Association gives 7% increases with some slightly higher to bring some of the subdivisions of the salary schedule in line. The district also aligned its salary schedule with the elementary school district’s, for example by moving bus drivers to a higher tier. The ongoing salary costs are estimated at $213,000.

Much of the funding for the first year of the changes will come from a projected surplus, with a growing amount of money coming out of reserves in later years.

“Based on current projections, to sustain this increase for multiple years, we’d have to definitely get additional revenue or explore expenditure reduction,” said Douglas Crancer, the district’s chief business official.

The board accepted the contracts unanimously.

Superintendent Lisa Pettis gave a safety update, saying that the district and Galt Police Department are looking to hire a second school-resource officer, and to make sure that officers have access to campuses and classrooms in emergencies. Additionally, a digital sign-in system has begun to roll out. Once that has been implemented, the district will distribute employee badges, which Pettis said would help police identify staff during emergencies.

Trustee Melissa Neuburger said she was glad to see that the “absolutely necessary” badges are coming soon.

The trustees authorized a $160,000 contract to replace or retrofit drinking fountains with hydration stations that include water bottle fillers, followed by a resolution accepting a grant for more than $500,000 that will fund assessments, maintenance, and repairs to the district’s HVAC systems.

The board also approved resolutions recognizing Teacher Appreciation Week, which runs May 8-12, and Classified School Employees Appreciation Week, which runs May 21-27. Pettis said faculty and staff would receive gifts on May 8 to honor their work.

“We recognize our teachers spend countless hours at the school site to prepare lessons and counseling our students, as well as after hours,” Pettis said of faculty. Classified employees, she added, “are often forgotten in the big picture, and we all know that we cannot operate the district efficiently without our classified staff, and we are very honored and pleased with the staff that we have.”