New contract for South Whidbey teachers includes three more days with no pay increase

LANGLEY – For the next two years, teachers in South Whidbey schools will work an additional three days.

The South Whidbey School Board approved the South Whidbey Educational Association contract 4-0 at the board meeting Wednesday. Director Leigh Anderson was absent.

Healthcare costs increased for the teachers, and cost of living adjustments were again suspended in the new contract.

Teachers will receive a 1 percent salary increase, however. Union co-presidents Val Brown and Jan McNeely said the two-year agreement was an important step in collaborating with the district's new leadership.

“It’s a big deal to work three more days for the same amount of money,” Brown said.

The teachers' union ratified the contract at its meeting Sept. 16, in a near-unanimous vote.

The board’s approval of the contract was the end of a long negotiation process that began in the spring. In June, the union abandoned contract talks that stalled under previous superintendent Fred McCarthy.

“This particular contract was long and very complicated,” McNeely said.

Sacrifices by the teachers, especially by working more, were appreciated by the board.

“I applaud you for stepping up and having kids’ best interests at heart,” said Board Chairman Rich Parker.

Approving the district’s bid for a pilot teacher and principal evaluation program was an easy sell for the union.

McNeely and Brown said because the Anacortes School District implemented an evaluation system last year, South Whidbey’s teachers were familiar with its benefits and less resistant to it than other unions have been.

While Seattle Public Schools and other Puget Sound area teachers unions chose furlough days to overcome budget troubles, South Whidbey's union delayed those in favor of adding three work days to the calendar.

This year, the union will disburse the extra work throughout the year, adding some hours for extended workshop days.


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