Teacher salary pact reached for Crescent School

JOYCE — The Crescent School District and its teachers’ union have agreed on a salary schedule for the current school year, ending months of negotiations on pay raises, officials said.

The agreement between the district and the Crescent Education Association includes raises for 23 teachers covered by the existing three-year contract, which expires at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

A new contract between the district and the union will be negotiated next spring, District Superintendent and School Principal David Bingham said Tuesday.

The Crescent School Board is expected to vote on the new salary structure for the current school year in a special meeting Thursday.

The meeting will begin at 5:15 p.m. in Crescent School Library, 50350 state Highway 112, Joyce.

Bingham said he will recommend that the Crescent School Board approve the salary structure and a related memorandum of understanding with the union.

He added that the contract talks were “very collaborative.”

“I had instruction from my board that we needed to be as competitive and fair as we possibly could be,” Bingham said of the negotiations, which began in late May.

“We have a very professional staff that works very hard, and we wanted to do our very best to honor the work that they do and also make sure that we had an agreement that was sustainable.”

Under the terms of the agreement, first-year Crescent School teachers will earn a base salary of $43,880 with an opportunity to earn $45,335 by working six additional days.

A teacher on the high end of the salary schedule would earn $85,357 annually with an opportunity for $88,187 in total compensation, Bingham said.

Crescent Education Association members unanimously approved the salary structure Friday, association President Therese Carroll said Tuesday. Three members were opposed to some wording in the memorandum of understanding, she said.

“I think it was a relief to all of us that we were able to come to an agreement,” said Carroll, a high school history and social studies teacher.

“We’ve been hearing horror stories all over the state. It hadn’t started out in the dollar range that we were seeking after the McCleary decision.”

School districts and teachers’ unions around the state have been grappling over newly-acquired basic education funding that the state Legislature approved in response to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.

The Port Angeles and Sequim school districts recently approved new contracts with their unions that include raises for teachers, averting potential strikes.

Elsewhere, teacher strikes are ongoing in Tacoma, Tumwater, Centralia and Battle Ground, affecting more than 53,000 students, The Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

In Joyce, the Crescent School District and Crescent Education Association reached a tentative agreement Aug. 27.

The first day of school was Aug. 30.

“As we moved through the summer, even though we weren’t getting to the deal, I think both sides very much believed we were bargaining in good faith and that we were going to get there,” Bingham said.

“I think because of the progress we were making, they started the school year without a [ratified] agreement in place. About three days before school started, we knew we were very, very close.”

Carroll said there were initial concerns about a possible strike at Crescent School.

Those concerns were assuaged by the “problem-solving” approach that district took when the school year was set to begin, she said.

Carroll predicted that the sides would negotiate in the “same spirit” during the next round of contract talks.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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