The Arlington teachers union ratified a tentative agreement for a new two-year contract on Sept. 4.
The union (a.k.a. the Arlington Education Association) voted to ratify with 98 percent of the members voting in favor.
The Arlington School District board of directors plans to take action to likely approve the contract during their Sept. 24 meeting, said Gary Sabol, director of communications with the district.
Negotiations for the new contract were still occurring as late as Labor Day, just two days before school was scheduled to start.
The two biggest issues were teacher compensation and class sizes, according to Jason Klein, president of the Arlington Education Association.
“It took a while to come to an agreement,” said Sabol, “but we are thankful that we reached that agreement before the start of the new school year.”
“We look forward to a wonderful school year and welcoming all of our students to class tomorrow morning,” said Klein.
Sabol said that the district and the union talked late into the evening of Labor Day to get a deal done before one was reached.
The union had previously said that if an agreement was not reached by Sept. 4 they would plan to strike.
“Obviously, both of our goals is for the kids to get a good education,” said Sabol.
Klein said that salaries will range between $57,000 and $111,500 for Arlington teachers once the agreement is approved by the district’s board of directors. Teachers will also receive a 3 percent raise next year as well.
Those numbers are comparable to neighboring districts like Marysville, which has just over $110,000 at the top of their scale.
It is less than some of the southern Snohomish County districts like Everett or Shoreline which are closer to a wage of $120,000 at the top of their teacher pay scale.
The district had to balance between the future and attracting good teachers, said Sabol.
“The biggest thing is sustainability, we have to be able to continue to operate with the revenues and budget that we have,” he said.
In addition to increased teacher wages, elementary schools will be getting additional teachers.
“There was a lot of focus on teacher compensation and salary schedules, but beyond that as a district we have added a new teacher for each of the K-5 elementary schools,” said Sabol.
Those teachers are starting this school year, he said.
Klein was appreciative of those who supported local teachers during the negotiations.
“We would like to thank the Arlington School District bargaining team for efforts to help us reach this agreement. We also want to thank the Arlington community for their support, understanding and patience as negotiations continued into September,” he said.
Sabol said that the district is happy that an agreement was able to be reached.
“The biggest thing is that we are glad we are able to return to school on time,” he said.
The Arlington School District is still in negotiations with their local classified union (the union for most non-teacher staff, including bus drivers, custodians and some secretary positions).
Sabol said they are not at risk of a strike right now and have further meetings in the month of September where they are planning to negotiate and hopefully reach an agreement.