School starts Monday for Puyallup students as teachers approve agreement with district

Puyallup teachers have voted to accept a contract with the Puyallup School District, ending three days of striking over competitive wages. School will start there Monday.

The Puyallup Education Association met 6 p.m. Saturday at Rogers High School to consider the agreement and approved it with a 97 percent vote.

“I believe it’s a win for our teachers, and I believe it’s a win for our community,” PEA president Karen McNarama said. “Ultimately, I believe it’s a win for our district. Because we now have the ability to attract and retain and keep our teachers in our district.”

The strike delayed the first day of school for approximately 22,000 Puyallup students.

School for Tacoma students, whose teachers are also striking and have not yet settled, has been canceled Monday.

The dispute has revolved around competitive salaries, which teachers across the region have said should be increased with funding districts have received as part of the state Legislature’s so-called McCleary fix. That legislation addressed a Supreme Court order that required the state to meet its obligation to pay for basic education, including teachers’ salaries.

According to McNamara, the new contract offers an salary increase north of 10 percent — a jump from the 6.6 percent last offered by the district.

First-year teacher salaries jump from $47,062 to $52,020. For teachers with 16 years experience and a master’s degree or Ph.D., salaries increase from $92,677 to $102,094.

“It’s enough to keep us competitive and meet our neighbors’ obligation as well,” McNarama said.

Puyallup Superintendent Tim Yeomans said he was pleased with the settlement.

To make the contract possible, Yeomans said the district had to pull some funds from its savings.

“The negotiations expanded beyond what is immediately sustainable, which means the board had to use some funds from the fund balance,” Yeomans said.

The Puyallup School Board will take action on that item on Monday.

“We are pleased to have an agreement and look forward to seeing students and staff on Monday,” said Brian Fox, communications director for the Puyallup School District.

Allison Needles: 253-597-8507, @herald_allison