School board signs off on labor contracts for teachers, staff

ARLINGTON – The Arlington School Board formally approved two-year collective bargaining agreements with unions representing teachers and classified employees.

Under terms of the contract voted by the Arlington Education Association, teachers will receive pay increases of 11 percent in the current school year and 3 percent in the second year.

In addition, a revised salary schedule will pay $57,000 for a first-year teacher, capped at $111,500 for instructors with a master’s degree and 30 or more years of service.

Among other represented district employees, Public School Employees of Arlington members voted for an agreement that will give workers a 7.2 percent raise this school year, and 5.5 percent more in the second year.

The district held as many as 18 negotiations between February and September with the union that represents classified staff such as secretaries, bus drivers, cooks, para-educators, janitors, maintenance workers and other employees.

“The agreement updates many language items, adds a step to the current salary schedule, and provides for a significant raise that will keep our classified employees competitive with surrounding districts,” said Eric DeJong, executive director of Human Resources.

Both contracts are effective as of Sept. 1.

“It was a challenging year for all bargaining across the state,” DeJong said, adding that all the parties are glad to have agreements in hand to move forward.

District officials said the challenge came through differences in the legal interpretation of legislation passed in Olympia that followed in the footsteps of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling regarding public education funding.

While districts such as Arlington received a one-time infusion of substantial funding for teacher and staff salaries, a growing gap in funding will develop in the years ahead when a state property tax increase kicks in, while capping what the district can collect through local property tax levies already approved by Arlington voters for myriad programs and services.

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