PORT ANGELES — A potential teachers strike was averted late Wednesday afternoon when the Port Angeles Education Association ratified a new salary schedule for the 2018-19 school year with the Port Angeles School District that will net starting teachers $47,000 a year.
The vote was 198-16 to ratify the terms of the agreement, said Eric Pickens, Port Angeles Education Association president.
“It was a fair settlement,” he said.
A general meeting and a potential strike vote had been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The district agreed to add $1.6 million to teachers’ salaries, less than the $2.3 million being sought by the PAEA, Pickens said.
There are about 260 teachers covered under the contract, Pickens said.
Bargaining teams from the PAEA and the school district administration reached a tentative agreement at about 7 p.m. Tuesday on utilizing an overall amount of $1.6 million to set new salaries.
Pickens said he worked with new Superintendent Martin Brewer from midnight to 6 a.m. Wednesday to devise the schedule that was ratified Wednesday afternoon.
“We worked all night long,” Pickens said.
Brewer did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
Entry-level, first-year teacher salaries will increase to $47,000, while the maximum salary for teachers with a PhD or a master’s degree and at least 90 credits toward a PhD will be $92,700, Pickens said.
“We feel like the district honored the teachers of our district by paying them a wage that they deserve, and they did follow through on that,” Pickens said.
The mood among the teachers Wednesday afternoon “was very positive, overall, very happy, relieved,” he added.
Classified staff have not ratified an agreement, he added.
The posting, “92.8% of the members ratified a new salary schedule for Port Angeles teachers!,” was on the union’s Facebook page at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Pickens, a first-grade teacher, said the PAEA had submitted an offer to the district at a bargaining session that began at 5 p.m. Monday.
“They said they needed to run the numbers to see if it would work,” Pickens said.
The district submitted a counter-offer at a meeting later Tuesday.
“We’ve got some fine details to work out, but we are making progress at this point in time,” Brewer said in a 4:45 p.m. Tuesday text message.
“The temperament in the room is cordial and problem-solving, and coming to solutions together.
“I believe we will work out the details and come up with a tentative agreement [Tuesday night].
“That’s our goal, anyway.”
Brewer has told the School Board that a state-mandated cap of $1.50 per $1,000 of valuation on levy funding that begins Jan. 1 had limited the district’s ability to cover salaries.
The levy that was bringing in about $9 million will generate $6.7 million for the September 2018-June 2019 school year, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
It will generate $4.4 million September 2019-June 2020.
School district administrators have said newly acquired basic education funding — a result of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision — left $2 million for salaries and other purposes.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at email@example.com.