Othello School Board OKs teacher contract

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OTHELLO — Othello School Board members approved a three-year agreement with the Othello Education Association at the regular board meeting Monday. The vote was 4-0; board member Rob Simmons was absent. The agreement is in effect through August 2021. The Othello Education Association ratified the contract in June. The contract is the first following substantial changes in the rules governing teacher compensation, among other things, enacted by the 2018 Washington Legislature. Previously all teachers statewide were paid according to the same salary schedule. Legislators eliminated the statewide schedule, leaving each district and its teachers to negotiate their own. Legislators did establish a minimum and maximum salary, and provided substantially more money for salaries. Othello opted to keep a salary schedule, which provides more money for teachers as they gain experience and take continuing education. Starting salary for a teacher with no experience and a bachelor’s degree will be $46,000 in the 2018-19 school year. It will be $47,426 for 2019-20 and $48,896 in 2020-21.

Salary for a teacher with five years experience and 45 continuing education credits will be $53,364 in 2018-19, and $55,018 in 2019-20. That teacher will be paid $56,723 in 2020-21.

A teacher with five years of experience and a master’s degree will earn $58,202 in 2018-19, $60,006 in 2019-20 and $61,866 in 2020-21.

A teacher with 10 years experience and a master’s degree earns $65,828 in 2018-19, $67,869 in 2019-20 and $69,972 in 2020-21. Teachers can reach a maximum salary, which depends on their experience and continuing education. (For instance, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree but no continuing education maxes out at eight years.) The Othello salary schedule hits maximum at 16 years experience and with a PhD, or with a master’s degree and 90 continuing education credits. In that situation, a teacher makes $86,702 in 2018-19, $89,389 in 2019-20 and $92,160 in 2020-21.

That’s the base salary. Teachers also are eligible for supplemental contracts for extra work related to education outside the school day. Those too are based on years of experience and continuing education. The contract also includes extensive rules for teacher evaluations, and for the procedures for teacher improvement. It includes a maximum class size for different grades, 22 kids for kindergarten and first grade teachers, 25 kids for second and third grade teachers and 27 kids in the fourth and fifth grades. Sixth grade, middle school and high school teachers have a maximum of 150 students in a six-period day, or 168 students in a seven-period day. If classes must be bigger than that, the teacher receives compensation. There are also provisions for insurance, student discipline, teacher prep time, medical leave, and assignments and transfers, among others. The entire contract is available on the district’s website. “I believe as a board member this is a very fair, equitable agreement,” said board member Mike Garza. “Our teachers deserve what they got,” he said, a sentiment echoed by board member Ken Johnson. “I’m very glad the state finally stepped up and helped get the teachers to where they should’ve been a long time ago,” Johnson said. Board member Jenn Stevenson said she was glad an agreement was reached. “Yay. This one’s done. I’m sure there are so many others that say the same.”

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