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In a move that will go some way to quiet recent criticism of San Diego Unified school administrators, the district has signed a tentative agreement with the union that represents administrators like principals and vice principals.

That criticism ramped up last month, when district staff received their first paycheck of the year. Unlike teachers, administrators and classified staff like landscapers and custodial staff all received checks including pay raises that teachers had agreed to forgo to save the district money.

While the agreement represents a relatively small savings for the district — about $4.5 million — it’s important symbolically, especially to teachers, who feel they have increasingly borne the brunt of the district’s financial woes.

In the last few months, local teachers faced a stark choice between layoffs and making the concessions. As the teachers union debated whether or not to agree to concessions, its leaders frequently pointed to the district’s administrative staff and accused the district of being top-heavy with administrators.

The agreement, which must now be ratified by a majority of union members, mirrors the deal inked between the district and teachers earlier this year. Administrators agreed to make concessions to help the district close this year’s budget deficit, including continuing unpaid furlough days and deferring a series of pay raises they were promised two years ago.

A district press release quotes school board President John Lee Evans:

This agreement with our principals and vice principals once again demonstrates that our district is taking the right actions that will ensure that we maintain a balanced budget for the 2012/13 school year. We thank the members of the Administrators Association for making the same sacrifices that our teaching staff has agreed to so that we can preserve excellent educational opportunities for our students.

Since teachers signed their labor deal, the administrators union has been under pressure to share the pain of concessions. Last month, officials at the union said a deal would be forthcoming.

District Chief of Staff Bernie Rhinerson said if the tentative agreement is approved, administrators will see their future paychecks adjusted to cancel out the pay raises they received last month.

Rhinerson said the district is still working on forging a deal with classified workers like custodial staff and bus drivers.

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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