Northshore teachers ratify contracts, gain a 10 percent wage increase

Northshore School District teachers and support staff approved new contracts with "overwhelming" support on Wednesday evening at Bothell High School, according to a release from the Northshore Education Association.

Northshore School District teachers and support staff approved new contracts with “overwhelming” support on Wednesday evening at Bothell High School, according to a release from the Northshore Education Association.

Support staff, or ESPs, will receive a 19.3 percent wage increase over three years in addition to cost-of-living raises granted by the state legislature. Teachers will receive a 10 percent wage increase over three years, plus cost-of-living.

The union reached a tentative agreement with the district on Aug. 25.

The three-year contracts allow for more full-time support staff positions and provisions for school safety upgrades, according to the release, and for increased support for music, PE, libraries and special education.

District Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid said the district would not need to ask for additional taxes to pay for salary increases, and would be able to fit the increases into the budget.

Safety improvements include additional training for staff, audits of school facilities and safety upgrades where necessary, Reid said.

Staffing of support roles was a major issue for the union during contract negotiations. The district initially denied the unions’ request of bargaining jointly for certified (teachers) and ESP (support) contracts. When the district agreed to bargain jointly, the union praised the move as a major “step forward.”

Union leaders had been critical of former superintendent Larry Francois, saying he supported extra paperwork and meetings which hampered the ability of teachers to spend time with students. The union release touts the new contracts as requiring “fewer meetings, less paperwork and fewer unnecessary assessments so Northshore educators can focus on teaching students.”

Conversely, union officials spoke well of Reid, who helped the South Kitsap School District come to terms with the teachers’ union during her tenure in Port Orchard.

“I am very proud of our members’ unity to achieve these groundbreaking contracts,” union president Tim Brittell said in the union statement. “We are grateful for the leadership of Superintendent Reid in crafting an agreement with us that will benefit all of Northshore’s students.”

The district released a statement on Wednesday evening as well, confirming the first day of school as scheduled for Sept. 6. Full-day kindergarten is scheduled to begin on Sept. 9.

“Northshore School District is grateful to have contracts in place for the next three years to support our outstanding certificated teachers and educational support professionals,” district spokesperson Casey Henry stated. “We are looking forward to beginning the school year as a strong, unified district in a terrific community.”

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