A student gets on a bus after attending a two-hour session at Lafayette Elementary School in Clairemont. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego Unified School District on Friday agreed to teacher salary and staffing increases as part of a plan to accelerate learning following unprecedented school closures brought on by COVID-19.

The proposal is part of a tentative agreement between San Diego Unified and the San Diego Education Association, effective through June 30, 2022 pending ratification by both parties.

To help retain teachers, the agreement calls for a 4% on-schedule salary increase effective July 1, 2021. The district said some 86 teachers will be assigned to help reduce elementary school class sizes, as well as 12 school psychologist positions.

“This collaborative agreement will give students the recovery they deserve while honoring the hard work of our educators during these extraordinary times,” Board of Education President Richard Barrera said. “We know that when our students return to five days of instruction in the fall, they will need more time with teachers, counselors, nurses and psychologists to meet their academic and social-emotional needs. This plan takes an important step toward addressing those needs.”

To increase hiring, new special education teachers will receive a $4,000 hiring incentive, as will educators currently teaching in general education who also hold a special education credential and agree to be transferred to special education, the district said.

The recovery efforts developed collaboratively by educators and the district focus on providing students additional time and attention with teachers, and prioritize expanded health and safety measures, including mental health. Each of these areas was highlighted as a national priority in the American Rescue Plan Act legislation and as state priorities in the May Revise and Legislative Budget.

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