As local students prepare to return to school on Sept. 5, two local school districts have reached contract agreements with their teachers, and a third was still negotiating.
Arlington teachers said they will strike if an agreement with the Arlington School District is not reached by Sept. 4. As of press time for the North County Outlook on Sept. 3, Arlington teachers have not reached an agreement with the district.
As the Washington state legislature is providing additional funding to school districts starting this year, many teachers unions have been negotiating raises this summer.
And that includes Marysville and Lakewood teachers, who both recently negotiated for double-digit raises in their new contracts.
Arlington School District
The Arlington Education Association (the Arlington teachers’ union) said they planned to strike if an agreement with the school district has not been reached by Sept. 4.
The two groups met throughout Labor Day weekend and negotiations were still occurring on Sept. 3 as of press time.
“Right now class size and teacher compensation are the two big things for us,” he said.
Klein said that lower class sizes are important for both the district and the union, and to attract good teachers good salaries are required.
"There was some movement yesterday [Sept. 2] on class size and compensation, but we feel we're still not quite there," said Klein.
"I think we're close enough for an agreement today. We're all hopeful," he said on Sept. 3.
Arlington School District officials said they are working to come to an agreement.
"Both teams are very diligent and they're working hard and we're all hopeful that we can get something done today," said Gary Sabol, director of communications for the Arlington School District.
"That's why we're meeting again on Labor Day, because we really wanted to get an agreement done today."
Marysville School District
The Marysville Education Association ratified a two-year contract with 92.9 percent of members approving on Aug. 30.
Interim Superintendent Jason Thompson said that the process went well this year.
“We had a packed board meeting a bit ago, and the teachers made their points but they were very civil and the board and I appreciated that. And it was the same at the bargaining table,” he said.
The new contract is a 14 percent increase in salaries on average for teachers, said Thompson.
The tentative salary schedule is not approved by the district’s board of directors yet, but would currently would reach a little more than $110,000 at the top of the scale, which is still short of some other local districts such as Everett and Shoreline.
“This is a concern for us, because we want to be able to stay competitive,” said Thompson. “It makes it difficult when some districts can give more than others."
Thompson is glad that a deal was done in time. “We’re real happy that school will be able to start on time,” he said.
Lakewood School District
The Lakewood Education Association ratified an amendment to their current contract with 99.1 percent of teachers approving the agreement on Aug. 29.
The district’s HR Director Daniel Lee said that local teachers will receive a 10 percent raise over two years, with the bulk of the increase this year.
“For the teachers that have been here for a while there will be some longevity pay as well, so that raise will be higher for them,” said Lee.
At the top of the scale some teachers will receive 14 percent to 16 percent raises, he said.
“I know that some of our neighbors are having more trouble, but we were able to work something out with the district,” said Larry Delaney, president of the Lakewood Education Association.
“That doesn’t mean we always agree, but in the end I think we reached an agreement that was good for the educators and good for the district,” Delaney said.
Lee said that the district has a strong relationship with the association.
“Negotiations are all tense at times, but we did not have to meet that many times and are just relieved to get this done before heading into the school year,” he said.