Negotiations between MCS & MTA Leadership: What You Need to Know

*Graphic at bottom of page revised April 10, 2024 to reflect items that have been settled so far.

*Q & A information revised March 7, 2024 to reflect an accurate figure for certificated employees' contribution to their pension benefit.

Modesto City Schools & Modesto Teachers Association (MTA) Leadership Negotiations

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Modesto City Schools and the Modesto Teachers Association (MTA) leadership are at an impasse. What does that mean?

A: The District and MTA leadership have met for nine sessions during the current contract negotiations, which began in April 2023. An impasse means that the parties cannot reach an agreement through the usual negotiation process. 

Q: So, what now?

A: Negotiations will continue, but with the help of a mediator. 

Q: Does an impasse mean that the teachers will strike?

A: No, an impasse is a continuation of the negotiation process. 

Q: What’s the sticking point? Why can’t the two sides agree?

A: There are two sticking points and salary is the most significant one of the two. 

1. Modesto City Schools has offered all teachers a 6.25% salary increase, which means their pay would increase by 6.25% retroactive to July 2023. This 6.25% will be an ongoing increase and will be added to the salary schedule. 

The MTA leadership initially asked for a salary increase of 14% and has since lowered their proposal to 11%. Unfortunately, even the lower figure is not consistent with the District’s obligation to maintain long-term fiscal solvency. (It’s important to note: the majority of the school district's budget pays for personnel costs.) 

2. The second sticking point is more complicated but put simply, it has to do with how collaboration hours are structured on certain minimum days. (That’s when students go home early and teachers work together in Professional Learning Communities, which are meant to improve teaching and student learning.) This ongoing discussion with MTA leadership includes questions about the structure of the workday for computer literacy teachers, preparation time for certain Pre-Kindergarten teachers, and the number of staff-wide faculty meetings per year.  

The district and MTA leadership have reached a tentative agreement on all other matters being negotiated, including increasing the district contribution to health benefits, increasing the amount of classified support, and reducing class sizes in grades TK-3, 7-8, and 9-12. 

Q: How much do teachers at Modesto City Schools make? 

A: The average annual salary paid to our teachers in the 2022-2023 school year was  $101,700. Teachers who are new to the district and new to the profession as of last year start at $68,150 per year, while teachers at the highest end of the salary scale earn $126,333. These figures do not include the 6.25% increase that has been offered for this year. When factoring in the increase that the district has offered, here is what the new salary figures would be:

Average annual salary for teachers at MCS: $108,056

Teachers new to the district and the profession: $72,409

Teachers at highest end of the salary scale: $134,228

As shown in the bar graph below, the district’s proposal of a 6.25% increase in pay means that teachers at Modesto City Schools would remain, overall, the highest-paid teachers in Stanislaus County.

Not included in those figures are benefits, pensions, professional development incentives, or extra duty hourly or stipend assignment compensation paid by the district. (An example would be teaching summer school or coaching a sport.) 

The district’s total cost of teacher salaries is driven up by the fact that a large number of our teachers stay with MCS for many years and are at the higher end of the salary scale. The longevity of our teachers’ careers is something we’re proud of. Our pride resonates in our position in being one of the best-paying school districts in Stanislaus County in terms of teacher salaries. 

Q: What about health care benefits? Aren’t they costly?

A: While there’s no denying that the cost of health care continues to rise, the district has doubled our contribution to benefits over the last six years, an action that resulted from an in-depth study completed by a committee of representatives from MTA, CSEA (Classified School Employees Association,) and District management representatives. This year alone, the district and MTA leadership agreed to increase the district’s benefit contribution to $10,800 per year, and that increase is already in place. This amount reflects a 54% percent increase in the district’s contribution in just the last four years. 

The district contributions referenced above do not include the amount paid into employees’ retirement (pension) benefits. While certificated employees contribute *10.25% of their pay to their pension, the district contributes 19%. 

It’s also important to note: MCS and MTA leadership have completed negotiations over the benefit contribution. This is not one of the two remaining sticking points. 

Q: Why can’t the district raise salaries even more, and go beyond the 6.25% being offered?

For perspective, 1% (one percent) is equal to $2.2 million in ongoing cost to the district. This would be in addition to the $22.8 million the District has already committed to in the form of a salary increase, increased health benefits and lower class sizes. It’s important to note that personnel costs make up the vast majority of our budget. So, an increase of 11% is not consistent with long-term fiscal solvency. But, those facts should come as no surprise. They’ve been shared with MTA leadership in detail.

For a more detailed understanding of the district’s budget, the community is invited to view our Board of Trustees budget workshop, held on Monday, February 26. 

For more information on the district’s legal obligations around fiscal responsibility, please scroll down to the bottom of this page. 

Q: The district has been spending a lot of money building new cafeterias and classrooms for students, along with other facilities. Why couldn’t some of this be spent on teachers?

A: Modesto City Schools values its teachers. That’s why, on average, our teachers are the highest-paid teachers in Stanislaus County. It’s important to note that staff salaries can’t be taken out of bond funds, which is what pays for the repairs and upgrades being made to our oldest schools. By law, voter-approved bonds are dedicated to physical improvements at our schools. 

Q: Is this impasse between the teachers union and the district going to affect my children?

A: The impasse will not impact classroom instruction. One of many things that the district and MTA agree on is that we must put students at the forefront of what we do every day. Over the years, we have worked together to create the best conditions for our students. The negotiation process will not change that.   

Q: When will we know more?

A: It’s difficult to predict the duration of an impasse, but our district leadership looks forward to working with the mediator and continuing to work with MTA. While negotiations must be conducted in the appropriate setting, directly with representatives of MTA, the district will continue to provide the community with updates on our progress. 

Questions about this document are welcome. Staff, parents, and community members are invited to contact the district’s Public Information Office at 209-574-1611 or

Information about MCS’s Legal Obligations to Be Fiscally Responsible 

The California education code requires school districts to certify a positive budget certification – showing they will meet their financial obligations – for three consecutive school years. If the district agrees to an 11% raise, that would trigger AB 1200 monitoring by the Stanislaus County Office of Education, and we would not have a positive financial certification beginning with the 2024-2025 First Interim Reporting Period.

Negotiations: To Do's & Items We've Settled So Far