Sequim Education Association member and Sequim High School teacher Jon Eekhoff shakes hands with school board director Jim Stoffer after the board meeting on Oct. 16 where the board approved the collective bargaining agreement for Sequim teachers. Sequim Gazette photo by Erin Hawkins

School board OKs teacher contract

Sequim School District board of directors approved a new contract for Sequim teachers.

Sequim Education Association (SEA) President Diana Piersoll and Sequim Schools Superintendent Gary Neal once again stood together as they presented the finalized terms for the SEA collective bargaining agreement at the board meeting on Oct. 16.

Board members unanimously approved the SEA agreement, with director Mike Howe absent.

“I think it was a learning process on both sides,” Piersoll said. “We learned to trust each other in the end.”

“Many of us in both parties were new to this process,” Neal said. “There were some things that had a very steep learning curve.”

The teachers’ union started negotiations with the district in April of this year and came to a tentative agreement on Sept. 25.

SEA members voted and ratified the tentative agreement on Sept. 28 with an 86 percent approval.

With the approval of the school board on Oct. 16, the agreement will last for one year before negotiations begin again in April of 2018.

Piersoll said with the new agreement the Time, Responsibility and Incentive (TRI) days package changed from 16.5 TRI days to 21.5 days for the 2017-2018 school year.

She also said class size language was added to put number limits at each grade level and if those numbers are reached, then additional sections will be opened or another teacher will be added to the room.

“If these options are not possible at the elementary level, then teachers will receive compensation for each child over the class limit,” she said.

Other changes include having teachers on the secondary Instructional Materials Committee for specific subjects and allowing teachers in the district to save their personal days for a total of five days.

“The other changes were to clear up grammatically incorrect items as well as outdated items,” Piersoll said.

For the future, Piersoll said SEA and Sequim teachers would like the board to be “visible” and suggested board members come out to the schools in the district and “see what we’re doing on a day to day basis.”

“I think we’ve all come together pretty well here at the end,” board President Heather Short said. “We set some guidelines and they were met and it appeared everyone was in consensus at the end.”

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