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Almost all of the 1,534 educators laid off earlier this year will return to work by Sept. 1 after San Diego teachers overwhelmingly voted to ratify a tentative agreement between their union and the school district.

Of 4,501 votes cast, 3,033 members voted to ratify the agreement and 1,468 members voted not to ratify.

The agreement, reached last week between union and district negotiators, will now go to the school board for final approval Thursday. Four of the five school board members have expressed their support for the contract, and it will almost certainly be approved by the board.

“We may not all agree, but it’s important that we stand together during these unprecedented times,” said teachers union President Bill Freeman, who announced the results Wednesday at the union’s headquarters.

The tentative agreement rolls back layoffs thanks to concessions from educators, who agreed to forgo a series of pay raises they were promised by the school board two years ago. Union members also agreed to continue taking five unpaid days off for the next two years.

A more controversial aspect of the tentative agreement is a provision that calls for teachers to take up to 14 additional unpaid furlough days if voters fail to pass either of two tax measures placed on November’s ballot. That would shorten the school year by as much as three weeks.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has threatened to cut billions of dollars out of state education spending if his tax measure fails. San Diego Unified’s tentative agreement budgets for that cut with the additional furlough days.

That part of the tentative agreement has sparked criticism from parent groups and school board trustee Scott Barnett, who argue that the school year’s length should be protected at all costs from Brown’s threatened budget cuts.

But the tentative agreement does guarantee that class sizes will not rise, and that more than 1,000 teachers will not lose their jobs and their benefits.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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Will Carless

Will Carless was formerly the head of investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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