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Marysville school board gives final approval to three-year teacher pact

MARYSVILLE — A 6.4 percent pay hike over three years is probably the highlight of a new contract inked recently with the local teachers’ union.

With minimal discussion, the Marysville School Board of Directors gave final approval to the agreement at their regular meeting on Sept. 8.

The Marysville Education Association, the district’s teachers union, previously had voted in favor of the deal.

Besides the pay raises, district Assistant Superintendent Gail Miller said another important aspect of the new contract includes some enhancements of tuition reimbursements for new teachers.

Moving away from salaries and benefits, she said, among other steps, the two sides had agreed on creation of a task force to study the district’s approach to special education.

Both Miller and MEA President Arden Watson said no particular sticking points appeared during the negotiations that began in the spring. Miller said she preferred to talk about there being “areas of interest” between the two sides rather than disputes.

“We had numerous issues,” Watson said. “Some were easier to solves than others.”

Watson added that while salaries and benefits certainly were on the table, those items weren’t the only topics given weight by her membership.

“Teachers are very interested in issues that affect the classroom,” she said.

Topics receiving attention included such things as class size, though Watson quickly added she feels that issue and similar concerns need to be addressed at the state level. Nevertheless, local teachers gained some concessions in the size of high school science classes. Watson added the idea is to allow students better access to lab materials.

Both sides expressed relief that they were able to reach at least a tentative agreement before students returned to class Sept. 2. After what was described as a marathon 17-hour bargaining session, the two sides first announced having created a tentative contract Aug. 22.

“We knew we were really close to an agreement,” Watson said of that final, lengthy contract discussion. She added that with only a few issues left to hash out, both sides decided to just get the job done rather than go home and come back the next day.

Both sides also agreed not to release details of the pact until it received full approval.

With one member absent, the school board of directors adopted the new contract unanimously. But board Director Don Hatch said he fears the pact and possibly looming budget cuts could hurt students.

“Am I supporting this contract, yes, I am,” he said. “But I’m struggling … It’s almost like closing your eyes and saying everything is OK.”

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