New deal makes Mukilteo teachers among state’s highest paid

The agreement also reduces the size of special education classes while boosting support for students.

Starting pay for a first-year teacher in Mukilteo public schools will be $60,000 starting in September. (Mukilteo School District)

Starting pay for a first-year teacher in Mukilteo public schools will be $60,000 starting in September. (Mukilteo School District)

MUKILTEO — Teachers in Mukilteo public schools will be among the best paid in the state under a new three-year contract approved Monday by the district’s board of directors.

The most seasoned classroom instructors will earn nearly $124,000-a-year under the collective bargaining agreement, the top mark for a public school teacher in Washington. Meanwhile, starting pay for a first-year teacher will be $60,000, also one of the highest marks in the state.

Other agreed upon changes include smaller special education classes and added supports for the students, more hours for paraeducators and the launch of a new ethnic studies course at each of the district’s three high schools.

Members of the Mukilteo Education Association overwhelmingly ratified the agreement June 24.

Monday’s school board vote was unanimous.

“We can clap for that,” school board President Michael Simmons said moments after the vote.

The new contract will take effect Sept. 1 and run through Aug. 31, 2022.

Association President Dana Wiebe told the board she was “very proud” of the deal, not just in compensation but also with a strong commitment to developing a culturally responsive and diverse workforce.

“There are groundbreaking improvements in this contract — improvements we should mutually celebrate,” she said. “Your approval of this collective bargaining agreement will help us attract and keep the exceptional teachers that the students in our community deserve.”

Text of the final deal is not expected to be posted on the district’s website for several weeks.

However, the teachers union did post a summary of new provisions on its website.

Regarding salaries, the $60,000 mark for a first-year teacher is up from the current $58,481 for a roughly 2.6% increase. This will move Mukilteo closer to the $62,688 salary earned by new teachers in neighboring Edmonds School District.

At the other end, a Mukilteo teacher with 12 or more years experience and a master’s degree, will get a salary of $120,776, a roughly 8.5% increase from the current $111,348.

The contract also provides a $3,000 stipend for a master’s, pushing the earnings to $123,776 which will be the highest in the state. Currently, the Everett School District pays its most experienced teachers the most, $123,291 including a master’s stipend, under a contract that runs through next year.

In Mukilteo, teachers are due pay raises of at least 2.5% in the second and third years of the contract.

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

Regarding class sizes, the agreement aims to have two fewer students in each special education class in elementary and secondary schools. It also calls for smaller caseloads for speech and language pathologists, more hours for paraeducators in the classroom and added funding for nurses, psychologists and occupational and physical therapists.

“From the perspective of the bargaining team, we are most proud of our achievements to support our special education students” and the teachers and specialists that serve them, Wiebe wrote in an email.

Also under the agreement, the maximum number of students assigned to a kindergarten class will be 25, down from 28. For grades 1-3, the maximum will be 27 and for grades 4-5, it will be 30. It appears the number for grades 6-8 (31 students) and 9-12 (34 students) is unchanged from the contract which expires next month.

“To be honest, class sizes (at all levels) are larger than we’d like them, but we don’t really have the facility capacity to accomplish much more than we did,” Wiebe said.

Other changes scattered through the agreement include a new course in ethnic studies at each high school and a boost in pay for substitutes. Their daily rate will be $180, up from $148.

Monday’s decision comes a year after bitter feuding between teachers and district leaders on how to divvy up an infusion of state dollars.

Teachers picketed outside schools and protested at board meetings in pursuit of larger raises than offered by the board. At one point, union members approved a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Marci Larsen. Eventually the two sides settled on one-time raises that averaged around 13%.

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

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