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Palo Alto school district, union agree on tentative full-day kindergarten benefits

Changes to cost district $786,000 over three years

The Palo Alto school district has tentatively agreed to lower kindergarten class sizes and provide more instructional aide hours, preparation time and professional development in response to a union request to bargain over full-day kindergarten at all elementary schools, which launched in October.

The school board was set to discuss the tentative agreement at its meeting Tuesday night, but postponed it to the Dec. 6 meeting. The union's voting period lasts through this Friday, so has not yet officially ratified the agreement, said Teri Baldwin, president of the Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA).

The district met the teachers union's demands in part. While the union originally asked to cap kindergarten classes at 18 students, the agreement provides a reduction in class sizes from 22 to 20 students for the remainder of this school year and to 19 for next year.

The district will also increase the number of hours aides assist kindergarten classes from 10 to 15 hours per week, the amount the union asked for. The district also agreed to provide 90 minutes of prep time (when students are out of the classroom for music, physical education and library time).

Kindergarten teachers will also tentatively get three half-days of leave for professional development for this year, and six half-days for the 2017-18 year.

The district is not providing an additional parent-conference day, which the union asked for.

These changes will cost the district $102,000 this school year (for the additional instructional aide time) and $342,000 for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 years, each. This year's expense will be funded by a one-time state discretionary grant, according to the district, so there is no impact to the General Fund this year.

Superintendent Max McGee said the district expects the union to ratify the agreement soon.

"It'll work out well for the students, the teachers and the parents," he said Wednesday evening.

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