The Anacortes School Board Wednesday afternoon approved a teachers contract with an average wage increase of 13 percent over one year at an estimated cost to the district of $2.2 million. Schools open on Thursday.
Under the new one-year contract with the Anacortes Education Association, beginning teachers will start at $52,000 and teachers with more experience, training and time in service will earn as much as $103,000.
There are 163 teachers in the bargaining unit with a significant portion in the high end of the scale.
School Superintendent Mark Wenzel told the Board that the pay scale is on a par with other school districts in the area. He said the contract, along with contracts for para-educators and administrative assistants, was the work of a lot of back and forth negotiations.
All three bargaining units approved the contracts Tuesday night, prompting a special School Board meeting on Wednesday over the lunch hour.
In a written statement to the Board, Dr. Wenzel said," We have worked hard with all lf our contracts to achieve three goals: negotiate fair settlements that recognize the value of employees' work; stay competitive with districts in the county and region to attract and retain high-quality staff; and maintain a fiscally sound budget."
He added, "We believe these contracts do all three."
The Para-Educators two-year contract moves starting their starting salary from the current $14.69 per hour to $16.99 in the 2018-2019 school year, then to $18.18 in the 2019-2020 school year. There are 63 members in that bargaining unit.
The new three-year contract for administrative assistants increases pay an average of 10 percent in the first year and three percent increases in the second and third years. Starting salaries will be $21.25 per hours in the first year. A 12-year veteran will go from $23.17 in the 2017-2018 school year to $25.37 in the second year.
Contracts with two other bargaining units are outstanding, though Wenzel said one for technology information professionals has been approved the union membership and will be presented to the School Board at it's next meeting on Sept. 20.
The three contracts will, in total, cost over $2.5 million, which Wenzel says is the net increase in school district income following changes made by the state legislature. He said the district will need to be very prudent about expenses in the years ahead.