Sequim Education Association member and Sequim High School teacher Jon Eekhoff shakes hands with school board director Jim Stoffer after the board meeting Monday, where the board approved the collective bargaining agreement for Sequim teachers. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim School Board approves teacher contract

SEQUIM — The Sequim School Board has approved a new contract for Sequim teachers.

Diana Piersoll, Sequim Education Association (SEA) president, and Sequim Schools Superintendent Gary Neal stood together as they presented the finalized terms for the SEA collective bargaining agreement at the board meeting Monday.

Board members unanimously approved the SEA agreement, with director Mike Howe absent.

“I think it was a learning process on both sides,” Piersoll said. “We learned to trust each other in the end.”

Said Neal: “Many of us in both parties were new to this process. There were some things that had a very steep learning curve.”

The teachers union started negotiations with the district in April and came to a tentative agreement Sept. 25.

SEA members voted and ratified the tentative agreement Sept. 28 with an 86 percent approval.

With the approval of the school board, the agreement will last for one year before negotiations begin again in April.

Piersoll said the new agreement increases the Time, Responsibility and Incentive (TRI) days from 16.5 days to 21.5 days for the 2017-18 school year.

She also said class size language was added to put number limits at each grade level and if those numbers are reached, then additional sections will be opened or another teacher will be added to the room.

“If these options are not possible at the elementary level, then teachers will receive compensation for each child over the class limit,” she said.

Other changes include having teachers on the secondary Instructional Materials Committee for specific subjects and allowing teachers in the district to save their personal days for a total of five days.

“The other changes were to clear up grammatically incorrect items as well as outdated items,” Piersoll said.

For the future, Piersoll said SEA and Sequim teachers would like the board to be “visible” and suggested board members come out to the schools in the district and “see what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”

“I think we’ve all come together pretty well here at the end,” board President Heather Short said. “We set some guidelines, and they were met and it appeared everyone was in consensus at the end.”

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Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at ehawkins@sequimgazette.com.

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