North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Teachers, districts agree to contracts


September 13, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Marysville School District Superintendent Becky Berg, left, and School Board president Pete Lundberg discuss approving the tentative agreement for a one-year contract between Marysville teachers and the district during a meeting on Sept. 7

Both the Marysville School District and Arlington School District reached agreements with their teachers for contracts the week before school started this year.

Many area districts, including seven in Snohomish County, worked late into August to negotiate.

Arlington teachers agreed to a tentative agreement with the local school district on Sept. 5, the night before school started.

The Arlington School Board plans to take action on their contract on Sept. 11.

The Marysville Education Association approved their agreement on Aug. 30 with the Marysville School Board approving the agreement on Sept. 7.

Both agreements are for one-year contracts.

The biggest obstacle for districts was waiting for the state budget to come back to them this year.

The state legislature has been mandated to fully fund education as part of the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision and debate this year continued into the summer about exactly how to do that.

"The budget from the state came very late this year," said Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Chrys Sweeting.

"And we're still trying to grapple to understand all the parameters of what this budget will fund," she said.

President of the Marysville Education Association Randy Davis and President of the Arlington Education Association Jason Klein agreed that state funding was the biggest delay.

"The main reason is because the state legislature took too long with their budget," said Davis.

"By the time the district was able to run the numbers to see what the impact would be, it was already August," said Klein.

"Once that was figured out we still had to address our concerns," he said.

Marysville School District Superintendent Becky Berg said that four years ago the Marysville School District had their agreement in place by the end of June.

The negotiation is an on-going process that starts in the winter months, said Sweeting.

"We started in February and March and met throughout the year," she said.

Most of the points of contention this year were non-monetary for Arlington teachers, she said. "Ultimately we came together and got a deal done."

Sweeting said that the district is happy with the results of the negotiation.

"Both sides worked diligently to reach an agreement," she said. "We look forward to working with the teachers to support our students this upcoming year."

"We're relieved that this got settled," said Klein. "We're glad we're able to get it done and get back to teaching."

The biggest changes in this year's contract involved teacher evaluations, because of changes in state law, and the new contract also provided "some relief for K-3 [Kindergarten through third grade] teachers and special education teachers," said Klein.

Marysville officials also said they were happy with the results of their agreement.

Marysville School Board president Pete Lundberg thanked both negotiating sides for being professional.

"It appears what happened in this most recent bargain is that both sides were open and honest with each other and that is something the board really appreciates," he said.

"Both sides gave a little and, it hurt what both sides gave, but I think that's the nature of a fairly good compromise," he said.

Davis agreed that the Marysville Education Association members were pleased with the agreement.

"We're always happy to reach an agreement with the district," said Davis. "There was a willingness on both sides to listen to each other and talk about the problems of what we need to do to improve the learning environment."

He said there was a variety of smaller items that added up to a lot for the teaching environment.

"Beyond the monetary and job concerns, we addressed a number of issues about what we need to do to make Marysville a better place for children to learn," he said.

Because Arlington and Marysville's contracts are for one year, both districts and teachers unions will be negotiating again this upcoming year.

"You work to support your teachers and staff, but you also have to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars," said Sweeting.

Marysville School Board member Chris Nation said he hoped that next year the district and the Marysville Education Association could reach an agreement earlier.

"If we had this done and knew the expectations well in advance ... I think our community would much appreciate that, and not this rush to do it in the last month," he said.

Mike Sullivan, Marysville School Districts executive director of finance, was optimistic about next year, saying it should be easier for the next two years, although said there were still some unknowns.

"There are still some things that are not fully correct when it comes to fully funding education," he said.

Lundberg was more pessimistic about the budget position the district will be in next summer.

"I bet next year we will be in the exact same position because it's going to take a [state] legislative session and then they can extend it and then they can extend it and then they can extend it," he said.

Davis said until a clear funding source is identified by the legislature, there will likely be debates next year into the summer as well.

"Until they can come up with a way to fully fund the McCleary decision, it looks like it will keep happening," he said.

The Washington State Supreme Court plans to make a decision this October on if the legislature is doing enough to fully fund education in regards to their McCleary decision or if more needs to be done.


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