Some students hoping to extend their summer vacation may not be thrilled that the South Whidbey School District and the teachers’ union came to an agreement Monday night.
The community, however, should be happy. A teachers’ strike was avoided.
A compromise was reached in the end. The two-year agreement between the school district and teachers’ union increases minimum total pay for teachers to $50,827 in year one, and $53,639 in year two. The maximum total pay increased to $103,000 in year one and $108,000 in year two.
That doesn’t include benefits.
That’s about a 17 percent increase for beginning teachers by the second year.
It’s not as much of an increase as the Oak Harbor and Coupeville school districts, but it puts the districts on pretty equal footing, pay wise.
The beginning salary for Oak Harbor teachers will increase to about $53,700. In Coupeville it will increase to $53,444 per year.
One could argue that South Whidbey teachers should be paid more than their peers in the other two districts since it’s more expensive to live on the south end of the island.
On the other hand, school funding is based on student enrollment and there’s been a decline in the South Whidbey student population since 2004.
In all, it’s a good deal for teachers. It’s also a commitment from school district, and community, to put their money where their mouths are and offer pay that will help retain high quality educators and draw new ones into the field of teaching.
There is some concern that the pay increases may not be sustainable, and that will become apparent over the course of years. In the meantime, it’s worth celebrating the fact that school will start on time on South Whidbey, and a strike is no longer a possibility.