Teachers in the Bethel School District approved a new three-year contract Monday.
The contract gives teachers a 2 percent increase in one category of pay in each of the next two school years. And theres a 1.5 percent increase in the final year of the contract, which will be the 2015-16 school year.
Those raises are for a category of teacher pay known as TRI (time, responsibility, incentive) money, which districts are allowed to pay teachers to compensate them beyond their basic salary for time and responsibilities that extend beyond the standard school day.
Neither union nor district officials had an immediate tally Thursday evening of how much those raises will cost the Spanaway-based district, which has 17 elementary schools, six middle schools, three comprehensive senior high schools, an alternative high school and an online academy.
Bethel Education Association President Bob Shafer said the TRI increases will offer first-year teachers a pay boost of about a $600 a year, while more experienced teachers will see a raise of about twice that amount.
Overall, I think we got some good things out of it, he said of the contract in total.
Shafer said about 241 of the BEAs roughly 1,000 members attended the contract vote meeting on Thursday. An estimated 76 percent of those present, or some 183 members, voted to approve the contract.
The BEA represents classroom teachers as well as counselors, librarians, psychologists and other professionals who work with students outside the classroom.
Bethel Superintendent Tom Seigel said it was the first time in recent memory that the districts teachers will work under a three-year contract. Most past contracts have been two-year pacts, he said.
He said the district asked for the third year.
I think its a good contract, and it addresses teachers problems to the extent we can, Seigel said. This contract will allow us to build on the success weve had. Its showing that we value teachers and what theyre doing.
In addition to the TRI salary bump, the new contract also attempts to relieve other pressure points for BEA members.
The district has agreed to provide moving assistance when teachers are reassigned to new classrooms, and it will double pay for special education teachers who complete Individualized Education Programs from $25 to $50 per plan.
Class size limits roll back to 2010 levels, which means elementary class size limits are reduced by two students and secondary class limits drop by one.
Those limits vary by grade level, but in kindergarten through third grade, for example, class size will be limited to 25.
If the district must exceed the limit, it will pay teachers $150 a month for two extra students, and $500 a month for exceeding the limit by five or more.
Seigel agreed that the compensation for class overloads will provide an incentive for teachers to willingly carry more students, and an incentive for the district not to abuse the overload privilege.
We have set targets that we work hard not to go over, he said. We dont want to. We try hard not to.
But he said that when new students show up, especially in the beginning weeks of the school year, the district and its teachers must sometimes juggle larger class sizes until more teachers can be hired.
They never come in nice groups of 25, he said, noting that the district is keeping an eye on housing growth in the area. He said that based on summer student registrations, there may be several hundred more students this fall than were anticipated.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635