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Teachers, school district agree to 3-year contract

San Diego teachers overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract with the San Diego Unified School District this weekend, their union said Sunday.

The new deal, already approved by the school board, gained support of 97 percent of the nearly 3,200 teachers who voted, according to an announcement on the San Diego Education Association Web site.

More than 45 percent of SDEA members voted, with only 108 rejecting the contract, according to the announcement.

Teachers accepted five unpaid furlough days in each of the next two school years in exchange for a 7 percent pay raise spread in increments across 2012-13.

Teachers will also pay higher health care insurance co-pays and costs. The district agreed to cap class sizes and set staffing levels of counselors and school nurses.

“Educators are continuing our practice of supporting public education from our own pockets,” said Marc Capitelli, the vice president and bargaining chairman of the SDEA. “We have once again protected our students during these catastrophic economic times.”

The furlough days will be placed at the end of the school year, which will be shortened by a week. Union officials hope the extra time will give the district’s bleak financial picture a chance to improve, and if it does, the furlough days would be rescinded.