PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Education Association and the Port Angeles School District each gave up a little to reach a tentative agreement Monday that averted a strike.
The pact meant that 3,500 students could head to class this week without a disruption in their schedules or the possibility of having to make up days lost to a walkout at the end of the year.
The contract is not official until approved by the school board, but among the items on which the district and the Port Angeles Education Association (PAEA) agreed upon are across-the-board raises of 5.5 percent for PAEA members, who include teachers, counselors, nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists.
The PAEA had pressed the district during negotiations for guaranteed, compensated preparation time.
While the tentative agreement increases the amount of planning time classroom teachers have from 30 to 40 minutes a day, the union also agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the district to form a committee to address planning time at elementary schools.
The district and PAEA each also gave a little on reducing class sizes, which the union had said was a priority for its members.
Kindergarten through fifth grades are now capped at one fewer student per class; grade six is capped at 28 students if it is held at an elementary school; grades six through eight are capped at 160 total students; and grades 9-12 will remain the same cap at 160 total students.
The one-year contract runs through Aug. 31, 2023, with an option to re-open before that time.
The previous contract expired Aug. 31, 2022.
On its website during negotiations, the district posted a graphic (since removed) that outlined the difference between the funds it was allocated in the state’s 2022 supplemental budget for a 5.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for K-12 educators ($622,343) and the actual cost to provide that adjustment to district teachers ($$1,163,035). The difference ($540,962) would need to come from “local fund or other funds.”
The PAEA ratified the tentative agreement Monday night at Port Angeles High School with 99.4 percent of members voting their approval, according to a PAEA press release. The release did not state how many of PAEA’s 250 members attended the meeting.
The school board will vote on the new contract at its next scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 22 at Lincoln Center, 905 W. 9th St. The new contract will be released after it is signed by Superintendent Marty Brewer and PAEA president John Henry, according to the district.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at email@example.com.