Mukilteo School District teachers urge elected officials to renegotiate their salaries at a school board meeting back in June 2018. On Monday, they got a deal they like. (Andrea Brown / Herald file)

Mukilteo School District teachers urge elected officials to renegotiate their salaries at a school board meeting back in June 2018. On Monday, they got a deal they like. (Andrea Brown / Herald file)

Mukilteo schools may soon have state’s highest paid teachers

Teachers ratified a new contract Monday and the Board of Education will consider it next month.

MUKILTEO — Teachers in Mukilteo public schools have overwhelmingly embraced a new three-year contract boosting starting pay for new teachers and pushing salaries of seasoned instructors to the highest in the state.

Members of the Mukilteo Education Association on Monday approved terms of the collective bargaining agreement which covers wages and a plethora of other issues including reducing class sizes in lower grades and adding supports for special needs students.

The Mukilteo School Board of Education is expected to act on it July 15. The new contract would take effect Sept. 1 and run through Aug. 31, 2022.

Ratification of a deal in June — coincidentally on the eve of the final school day — is unusual because typically such negotiations between districts and unions don’t wrap up until August.

It’s an even bigger feat in Mukilteo where 10 months ago teachers made a full-court press for pay hikes following an infusion of state dollars as part of a resolution to the McCleary school funding case. They protested, picketed, talked of strikes and even took a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Marci Larsen before settling for one-time raises of around 13 percent.

“The negotiations this year were a far cry from last year,” said Dana Wiebe, president of the nearly 1,100-member association. “We wanted to heal what had happened in the past. I don’t think any of us wanted it to go so awry but it did.

“Together, we worked very hard to get a June agreement that would do great things for our teachers and our students,” she said. “In my opinion, we did that.”

Both sides were interested in getting it done smoothly, said district spokesman Andy Muntz.

“We’re happy that we’ve got an agreement,” he said. “We’re also happy that we were able to get the tentative agreement done so early.”

Under the tentative agreement, the annual salary in the 2019-20 school year for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree would be $60,000, up from the current $58,481. The roughly 2.6 percent increase will put the level of pay closer to the $62,688 salary offered to new teachers in neighboring Edmonds School District.

At the other end of the scale, a teacher with 12 or more years experience and a master’s degree, would see their annual wages climb from $111,348 to $120,776, an increase of about 8.5 percent.

The contract also provides them a $3,000 stipend for earning a master’s and will push their salary to $123,776 and make them the highest paid in the state. Currently, the top mark of $123,291 — with a master’s stipend — is paid to the most experienced teachers in the Everett School District.

The deal calls for across-the-board raises of at least 2.5 percent in the second and third years of the contract.

“Our goal was to be competitive with our neighboring districts because we had people leaving for Everett and Edmonds,” Wiebe said. “The agreement recommits Mukilteo as a leader in professional compensation, which will help us be competitive at attracting and retaining teachers.”

The leader of the Everett Education Association applauded the accomplishment of Mukilteo teachers and said their gains on salaries will be part of the conversation next year when Everett teachers seek a new contract.

“I’m really happy for Mukilteo teachers,” said Jared Kink, president of the Everett teacher’s union. “I’ve always said every teacher deserves a great, fair and competitive salary.”

Kink and association members have long prided themselves on working with the district to offer the state’s highest salary to the most experienced teachers.

“If that’s no longer the situation, then the Everett School District and the Everett Education Association have got some work to do,” he said.

Terms of the tentative agreement in Mukilteo apply to teachers and certificated employees, not paraeducators or classified employees, Muntz said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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