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Board OKs new 3-year teachers' contract

It's official.

The South Whidbey Board of Education approved a new contract between the school district and South Whidbey teachers Monday night.

The three-year contract does not include a pay raise, but the district will pay for extra planning days. Teachers will see a slight increase in their checks thanks to these added days.

"Although we made some headway, we did not get all that we needed to ensure that teachers can support their families and provide sufficient health benefits to all staff families," said Lynn James, president of SWEA.

The tentative agreement was reached between the district and representatives of the South Whidbey Education Association on Sept. 25.

During Monday's meeting, James urged school administrators and board members to attend a statewide teachers' rally in Olympia on Jan. 14. Teachers from around the state are expected to gather to address the governor and legislators about education funding.

"We need you to continue to put pressure on the legislators to honor these initiatives, as well as increasing funding for health care benefits," James said. "We need the state to fully fund the provisions necessary and state and federally mandated educations laws."

South Whidbey teachers have not decided whether to take a day off from school to attend the state rally.

Both the district, teachers and board members who participated in the bargaining process lauded the collaborative nature of the bargaining process.

"We found interest-based bargaining very productive. With administrators, school board members and teachers collaborating, we were able to agree on some common interests in the contract," James said.

A total of 105 teachers, about 80 percent of those eligible, voted on the contract. It received 74 percent approval.

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