“With 295 different pay models across the state, there`s a bit of a sense that their school districts are competing,” Roettger said. “I know our employees would have deserved a raise, we just wanted to make it sustainable.” The majority of members of the Cheney Education Association voted to ratify the new agreement, Shaw said in a statement. According to contract documents, district officials are placed at the appropriate level of the updated payroll plan, based on the long experience and training gained. In total, more than $2.5 million in new funding goes to certified employees and teachers are paid for every extra time they spend on contract work. The new contract seems to satisfy most employees in the district. The contract salary plan begins with a teacher with a bachelor`s degree and no experience at about 43,681 $US per year. This number increases when the teacher has experience and training. The highest pay margin can be reached after 16 years of service, which is significantly lower than in some other districts. In the absence of a national method of negotiating or raising wages, the negotiation process has proved difficult for districts throughout Washington.
At the federal level, districts introduced wage increases that ranged from about 6 percent to more than 12 percent. Peak wages in some districts ranged from $70,000 per year, while others ended up directly around $100,000. At the school committee meeting, Dotson told the school committee meeting that the implementation by the state government of a funding model leading to unwarranted funding for districts throughout the region has made the work difficult. It was a long road until teachers considered a strike and even a protest against the mediated assembly, gathered in front of the district offices with placards and chanted, “Where is the money?” The meeting lasted nearly eight hours and the interim agreement was not reached until around midnight. As part of the agreement, any teacher who is invited by the borough to take over the additional course work which will choose to reimburse in full the costs of all the necessary credits and equipment. In addition, the borough will provide new employees with three years of experience or less as teachers with a one-time reimbursement of $400 per teacher to meet the initial construction and care needs in the classroom. Cheney`s teachers officially have a new two-year contract in which the district spends 11.92% more money on educators` salaries. Cheney was the last district in the region to reach an agreement, and negotiations extended to September. After more than 25 meetings, an interim agreement was reached on 10 September with the help of a mediator. The borough will be able to provide salary increases this year with approximately $4.2 million in additional state resources, but may need to use the district`s reserve fund for the following year, when that figure drops to about $3.2 million. The new treaty was ratified on September 17 by members of the Cheney Education Association and approved by the school board at its September 19 meeting, where Assistant Superintendent Sean Dotson called the agreement a “win-win.” “We are convinced that this is a sustainable timetable,” Dotson said.