In February 1996, the San Diego Teachers Association (SDTA) went on a five-day strike. Afterward, union officials and district leaders announced a settlement that ended the threat of labor action but not the lingering hostility. The strike and its aftermath strained relationships at district and school site levels. During the following year, the district, the school board, the SDTA, and the community looked to the 1998 contract as a strong indicator of the future state of working relationships in the district. The district and the SDTA wanted to embark upon a new, collaborative relationship, marked by an interest-based bargaining process and a contract that was affordable for the city and fair to teachers.
Accordence conducted joint training in and exposure to interest-based negotiation for more than 500 people from a wide variety of members of the San Diego school community to focus on school site relations. A week of in-depth training and development of the interest-based negotiation process was then carried out with the teachers contract negotiation teams from the district and the SDTA. Accordence facilitated the negotiation process over the course of three months.
The contract broke two precedents: it was negotiated in the shortest amount of time in district history, and it was the first contract successfully negotiated prior to the expiration of an existing agreement. The agreement included innovative measures taken in San Diego for the first time, including a longer school year and a new peer coaching and assistance program for teachers, counselors, and nurses.