Sumner-Bonney Lake paraeducators vote to end strike, approve new contract with raises

A strike by paraeducators in Sumner-Bonney Lake School District has come to an end with the ratification of a three-year contract that provides pay increases.

The Sumner Paraeducator Association agreement includes an average increase in the salary schedule of approximately 12.5 percent in 2019-20, a 2 percent increase in 2020-21 and inflationary adjustments in 2021-22.

That translates to roughly a $2 per hour increase for general education paras, who currently have a base salary of $16.39 per hour.

“We are ecstatic,” said paraeducator Shontay Krystofiak. “Our contract looks phenomenal.”

District administration said in a statement it is pleased with the outcome and “are thrilled that school is back in session.” The Board of Directors will vote on the contract at its next meeting Nov. 13.

Paraeducators voted to strike earlier this month after months of bargaining with the district over a new contract. Union members said their wages weren’t competitive with nearby districts and that paraeducators in Sumner-Bonney Lake are leaving as a result.

School was closed for Sumner and Bonney Lake students Friday and Monday after teachers agree not to cross picket lines in solidarity with paraeducators.

The district said in a statement Saturday that it would “consider filing for an injunction with the Pierce County Superior Court to end the strike/work stoppage” and a set a meeting for Sunday.

That meeting was canceled after an agreement was reached Sunday evening.

“We had over 400 people RSVP for the board meeting, and I think that put a lot of pressure on our board members and our superintendent,” Krystofiak said.

The union of roughly 200 consists mostly of paraeducators and a handful of of licensed practical nurses, certified occupational therapy assistants and physical therapy assistants. Paraeducators serve a variety of roles, both in and out of the classroom, including assisting teachers and working one-on-one with students with specific needs.

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