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Mercer Island teachers, school board ink new three-year contract
On Thursday, Aug. 28, the Mercer Island School Board approved a new three-year contract with teachers that will last through August of 2017. Teachers voted to ratify the contract on Aug. 26.
“This contract negotiation was a successful, collaborative and collective process that will benefit students, families, teachers, the district, district staff and the community,” said Mercer Island School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano.
“The Mercer Island Education Association (MIEA) and the Mercer Island School District share a common vision to provide a high quality educational experience for our students,” said MIEA President Tani Lindquist. “Having not seen a cost-of-living increase, much less a pay increase, from the state in more than six years, we appreciate the district’s efforts to pay our teachers and education support staff a professional wage. Despite years of underfunding from the state of Washington, we need to be sure our district remains attractive and competitive to educators.”
For certificated staff, the contract includes a 2.1 percent pay increase in the first year and two percent raises in the second and third years. It also includes an increase in medical spending each year, an additional half-day of paid professional development starting in year two and increased professional development time overall.
Typically, the Washington State Legislature authorizes the bulk of any pay increase for school staff on a statewide basis. Since the state has failed to authorize any cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for the past six years, the district made the extra effort to reduce other district spending to meet the expense of the locally-funded teacher pay raises. Any COLAs passed at the state level in the near future would be in addition to the pay increases from the district throughout most of the contract.
“Due to the lack of progress we have seen from the state in regard to public school funding, we felt the district needed to demonstrate that we value our teachers and support staff,” said Human Resources Director Mark Roschy. “As a district, we stepped up to support their work and to keep the best teachers in our region in the Mercer Island School District.”
In addition to more pay for medical benefits, classified staff will receive the equivalent of a 2.1 percent pay increase in the first year and 2.1 percent in the second and third years. In the third year, if funding for at least another 0.5 percent increase has come from the state, the district will only be responsible for 1.6 percent of that increase.
The contracts also increase safety-training requirements for paraprofessionals and bring the district into compliance with a new religious observance law from the state and state Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP) standards.
Lindquist added, “We believe we have done important work through our contract negotiations to support public education programs and the staff who work with our students every day.”