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Teachers in three districts approve contracts

September 5, 2018

With teachers in three Skagit County public school districts ratifying contracts Tuesday, all teachers in the county’s seven districts are now operating with active contracts for the upcoming school year.

The newly ratified agreements in Anacortes, Concrete and Conway mean teachers in those districts, like all others in the county, will see significant salary increases.

While not all districts have released numbers, increases in teacher salary in Skagit County vary, including a 27 percent increase in La Conner that brings the district’s minimum salary to $50,633.

Teachers in the Burlington-Edison, La Conner and Mount Vernon school districts ratified contracts last week.

In Burlington-Edison, a 16 percent increase will bring the district’s minimum salary to $53,000.

The Sedro-Woolley School District was the first in the county to reach an agreement with its teachers in mid-August. That contract calls for a salary increase of 17.7 percent, and raises the district’s minimum salary to $54,233.

In Concrete, a 16 percent salary increase brings the district’s minimum pay to $50,837, Superintendent Wayne Barrett said.

In Conway, all 27 teachers approved the contract, which brings the district’s minimum salary to $53,296, said Conway Education Association Co-President John Townsend.

The contracts must be approved by each school board. So far, Sedro-Woolley is the only district to have its teachers contract approved by its school board. Others are set for approval this week.

In four districts — Concrete, Conway, La Conner and Mount Vernon — teachers voted to strike once school started unless they could come to agreements with their respective districts.

In Conway and La Conner, those strikes were narrowly avoided after tentative agreements were reached the evening before school was to begin.

At issue is millions of dollars in increased funding from the state to each of its 295 school districts as part of the so-called “McCleary Fix” — the state’s response to the 2012 state Supreme Court ruling that the state was not adequately funding basic education.

The Supreme Court gave the Legislature until this year to meet its requirements, which the state claims it has mostly complied with now that it has increased the statewide property tax to allow it to pour more money into local school districts and, this year, toward teacher salaries.

In exchange for the increase in state funds, however, districts next year will have to reduce the amount of money they can collect from their local tax bases. In the past, those local dollars have been used, in part, to fund teacher salaries.

Without that money, four-year budget projections show many districts will soon find themselves in the red, which made them hesitant to negotiate large salary increases with their respective unions.

— Anacortes American reporter Briana Alzola contributed to this report.

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