Teachers needed little time Monday night to ratify a three-year contract with Spokane Public Schools that guarantees them the same cost-of-living increases as other state employees.
Their meeting at Shadle Park High School lasted less than 5 minutes and produced an overwhelming 96% “yes” vote for the agreement proposed by the district.
By 6:30 p.m. the votes – 636 in favor, 27 opposed – had been counted and Spokane Education Association president Jeremy Shay was ready to celebrate.
“I think our members were satisfied with the agreement,” Shay said.
The Spokane School Board is expected to approve the tentative agreement on Aug. 24.
For teachers and other certificated staff, it calls for a 5.5% pay increase over the previous school year. For the subsequent two years, they will receive a raise of 1% or the state’s implicit price deflator, whichever is greater. The implicit price deflator is a measure of inflation.
Classified employees – secretarial, custodial, food service and other employees – will receive a 6.5% increase in the first year and the same terms the next two years.
“It’s a three-year agreement, so we’re excited about that,” Shay said. He added that it was “a big deal” for union members to receive a contract that resulted in pay that kept up with inflation.
Shay said there were few issues to wrestle with in the run-up to the vote. “There was a lot of nuts-and-bolts stuff, but I think we solved a lot of them,” Shay said, referring to working conditions.
“It’s a pretty good deal and I’m excited about it,” Shay said.
The tentative agreement means the base salary for a beginning teacher will rise from $48,424 to $50,897.
The base salary for a teacher with five years’ experience and 90 postgraduate credits will increase from $62,577 to $66,018.
At the top end of the pay scale, a teacher with at least 16-plus years experience with a master’s degree and at least 90 additional credits will see their base salary increase from $96,131 to $101,418.
Among items in the deal unrelated to pay is for school to start one hour late every Monday starting Sept. 12. In a statement sent to parents following the vote, the district said the change “allows teachers time to work with colleagues around student learning and supports.”
Last year, under the previous teacher contract, students were released early about every other Friday. Those early dismissal days will be eliminated under the new deal.
The district’s statement said the contract “ensures a balanced budget for our district while allowing SPS to continue recruiting and retaining incredible teachers and staff, sustain historically low class sizes, and provide supports to improve student outcomes.”
The district added that the agreement solidifies academic calendars for the next three school years.
“I am incredibly proud and grateful for all the individuals who participated in the contract negotiations and devoted countless hours and late nights over the past several months to reach this milestone together,” Superintendent Adam Swinyard said.
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