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Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Everett, Monroe school boards OK teachers contracts

The agreement includes 2 percent yearly raises, early release on Fridays and extra pay for excessive class sizes.

EVERETT -- A new Everett teachers contract has been formally approved by the Everett School Board.
The three-year contract calls for 2 percent raises each year, dismissing students early on Friday and extra pay for teachers when class size exceeds specified limits.
Details of the agreement were first announced last month, when members of the Everett Education Association voted to approve the contract. The school board approved the new contract Tuesday night, 3-0. School Board President Jeff Russell abstained because his wife is a teacher in the district. School board member Jessica Olson did not attend.
For students and parents in the district, which serves about 19,000 students in Everett and Mill Creek, the biggest change will come on Fridays.
That's when classes will be dismissed 75 minutes early. The shortened school days begin Oct. 5 and continue through May 31, 2013.
Teachers said they wanted the time to work on teams to improve student learning and for professional growth.
A similar provision was also included in the new teachers contract in the Monroe School District.
That three-year agreement with teachers, which also calls for an early release on Fridays, was approved by the Monroe School Board on Monday.
The Everett and Monroe school districts follow the Marysville, Lake Stevens and Snohomish school districts, which all let students out early one day a week for most of the past school year.
The cost of Everett's 2 percent pay raise and other benefits for the district's 1,073 teachers is estimated at $2 million for the current school year.
Elementary school teachers will also be paid $15 a day when class sizes exceed certain limits. Bonuses kick in, for example, when a kindergarten class has more than 24 students in it, or when a fifth-grade class has more than 27.
Elementary specialists, such as librarians, physical education, and music teachers will receive $2 a day.
These programs are expected to cost $346,000 in the upcoming school year.
The contract agreement will be posted on the school district's website. In return, the teachers union will get copies of all agreements with other union and employees groups and working terms for nonunionized employees.
The teachers union asked for the district to formally oppose the charter school initiative on the November general election ballot.
Instead, the district said if the initiative passes, it will reopen talks with the union on the issue within 30 days of the election.
The school board met four times in closed, executive session to discuss contract negotiations with the district's bargaining team, with the most recent meetings taking place on Aug. 22 and 23.
Meanwhile, in Monroe, early release Fridays start Oct. 1.
The school board approved a new three-year agreement with the Monroe Education Association, which represents about 370 teachers.
The agreement calls for 40-minute early release every Friday, so teachers can have time to work on their lessons plans and find ways to improve students' achievement.
The teachers had already 30 minutes each day after school, so now they will have 70 minutes on Fridays, district spokeswoman Rosemary O'Neil said.
Teachers and the district three years ago discussed starting an early release day, but both sides didn't know if it was a good idea, said Shaerie Bruton, president of the Monroe Education Association.
Parents were asked through surveys if they approved the idea. The survey showed most were in favor, as long as early release was Friday at the end of the day, Bruton said.
Recent studies show that giving teachers the planning time benefits students.
"All data indicate that early release allows teachers to provide better lessons plans, which in turn raises student achievement," Bruton said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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