New deal sets starting pay for Edmonds teachers at $62,688

The proposed scale ensures the district’s classroom teachers are amongst the highest paid in the state.

EDMONDS — Teachers in Edmonds public schools are in line for pay hikes of as much as 20 percent under a tentative agreement reached Monday.

Starting pay for a first-year teacher would be nearly $63,000 a year, with salaries for veteran instructors topping $114,000 under the accord negotiated between the Edmonds School District and the Edmonds Education Association, which is the teachers union.

The proposed new pay scale ensures the district’s classroom teachers are amongst the highest paid in the state. An infusion of state dollars to the district as a result of the landmark McCleary school funding lawsuit is counted on to cover the increase.

“Edmonds has always been a leader in the McCleary movement,” said Andi Nofziger-Meadows, the union president. “I think it was important to our association and our district to honor the intent of the McCleary decision.”

District officials confirmed bargaining is completed.

“We have reached a tentative agreement,” district spokeswoman Kelly Franson said. “We are waiting for the union to ratify the agreement.”

That is expected Aug. 28 when the union holds its general membership meeting. Once teachers have acted, school board directors need to approve the terms. The proposed salary hikes would take effect Sept. 1.

Edmonds teachers are working under a three-year collective bargaining agreement that runs through August 2020.

The union and the district agreed to renegotiate salary provisions after state lawmakers acted earlier this year to drive billions of additional dollars to school districts for teacher pay. That was to comply with the Supreme Court ruling in the lawsuit.

Negotiators met for a few sessions in late June. They took a break and returned to the table Thursday, striking a deal Monday.

“We’re thrilled we got to an agreement early,” Meadows said. “The district and the association had a mutual interest in reaching a settlement.”

Under the deal, the annual salary for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree will climb from $52,688 to $62,688. That $10,000 boost is a nearly 19 percent increase.

At the other end of the scale, a teacher with a master’s degree plus 90 units of additional education will be paid $114,272, up from the current top wage of $101,022. That amounts to a 13 percent hike.

The district and the union also agreed to shorten the time frame to get to the top salary. Teachers now must work 28 years and have the additional education to reach the highest salary. Under the deal, they will get there in 14 years.

That means come Sept. 1, a teacher with a master’s degree, those extra 90 units and 14 years’ experience will see their salary rise by roughly 20 percent, from $94,678 to $114,272.

Few other details were released Tuesday per an agreement between the district and the union.

Edmonds joins roughly two dozen districts around the state that have completed bargaining on how to spend new dollars tied to McCleary.

In the court case, parents and teachers successfully sued to force the state to amply fund basic education, including wages of school employees. Since the 2012 decision, lawmakers have boosted school funding by roughly $9 billion, including $2 billion in this budget for educator salaries.

Those increases in Edmonds are on par with many of those other districts.

Information posted online by the Washington Education Association, the statewide teacher union, shows an average increase of 17.3 percent for teachers in the Bellevue School District, 21.2 percent for those in Bainbridge Island schools, and 10 percent for instructors on Vashon Island.

Talks in Edmonds proceeded without discord, unlike in the nearby Mukilteo School District.

There, the district’s initial reluctance to reopen an existing contract and bargain salaries sparked protests by teachers as well as a vote of no confidence in the superintendent. Negotiations are now under way.

Most school districts in Snohomish County are working on new collective bargaining agreements with their teachers. In those cases, deals are not expected to be reached until mid-to-late August.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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