Tentative contract set with Sequim paraeducators

SEQUIM — After six months in negotiations, Sequim paraeducators could receive a 15.9 percent increase in salaries in the next two years.

They recently agreed to a contract with Sequim School District that is up for School Board approval Monday. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the district boardroom, 503 N. Sequim Ave.

The Sequim Association of Paraeducators union members ratified the contract Oct. 16 with a 98 percent approval rate, union president Elizabeth Joers said.

The contract would increase paraeducators’ salaries by about 10 percent to 11 percent for the 2018-19 school year and about 5 percent for the 2019-20 school year, according to Joers.

District officials confirmed “this is a fairly accurate description” of the tentative contract, though it has not been ratified by board directors yet.

Sequim has about 73 paraeducators employed in the district, making up about 48 percent of classified staff.

Paraeducators have several different roles in their daily jobs, from aiding in classroom instruction to providing reading help to students.

Beginning paraeducators start at about $17.64 per hour for the 2018-19 school year, and the following school year the new wage starts at $18.43, Joers said.

The beginning paraeducator wage before the salary increases was about $16.04 for a beginning paraeducator.

Paraeducators work part-time hours about six hours, five days a week.

Joers said union members were happy with the proposed salary increases.

“When the state sends money for our salaries, we get to open our contract to negotiate for those salaries,” Joers said.

“I think because the district was willing to use the money as it was intended, that’s what drove [members] to approve it,” she said.

At a School Board meeting in September, classified employees of the district claimed during public comments that the district received about $703,574 of state funding from the state Legislature — which was prodded by the state Supreme Court in the McCleary decision — to be equitably distributed to classified positions.

District officials said Sequim received about $669,000 from the state for classified positions.

The Teamsters union representing the district’s bus drivers has a tentative contract agreement with the district, one that will also go to the school board for approval Monday.

Randy Hill, the district’s director of human resources, said school secretaries and exempt administrative employees contracts still remain open.

A meeting is scheduled with the secretaries bargaining unit Tuesday, Hill said.

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