Peninsula College, teachers agree on contract

Peninsula College and the bargaining unit representing employees have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that will significantly boost salaries and bring compensation closer to other community and technical colleges in the state.

Tim Williams, of the Peninsula College Faculty Association, and Krista Francis, vice president of Student Services, outlined major elements of the contract for the board of trustees at its May 21 meeting held at the college’s Port Townsend campus.

The board will vote on the contract at its June 11 meeting; if approved, it would begin July 1.

“To stay competitive, we had to do this,” Williams said. “We had a major hole to crawl out of in terms of full-time faculty.”

Because Peninsula College’s salaries were so low, it was very difficult to recruit and maintain teaching faculty and other staff, he said.

“This isn’t just about compensation, it is about looking like our peers so that we’re competitive,” Williams said. “But that we have the support and clarity of expectations to know what improvement looks like.”

For the next three years, full-time faculty will advance up the salary schedule at $5,000 a year. The new contract lifts the salaries of part-time employees, who formerly received about 60% of full-time faculty, to 65%. The expectation is that, when the college receives funding, it can raise that to 85%, Francis said.

Academic advisors and coaches will receive two salary steps during the first year of the contract and then one step the following two years.

After cost of living adjustments are applied, the result will be about $20,000 in salary advancement of the three years of the contract.

Other changes included updating academic freedom language, clarifying the tenure process, classifying coaches and assistant coaches as academic employees and eliminating sabbaticals.

Williams said few faculty took advantage of paid leave, and it was decided those funds would be better used for the time being to contribute to raising salaries of all employees.

College President Suzy Ames said she supported the contract because it came out of a collaborative bargaining process rather than an adversarial one.

“This is the best contract we’ve ever had and it is transformative,” Ames said.

Peninsula College has about 140 full- and part-time employees — all of whom are considered faculty. This includes instructors, counselors, academic advisors, coaches and librarians.

Construction will begin this summer on a dental hygiene classroom and clinic, but the program itself will probably not start for another two years, Ames said.

The college submitted the 1,600-page application to the Commission on Dental Accreditation and must wait for its response.

“Because CODA only meets twice a year, we’re probably looking at fall of 2026,” Ames said. “They are a slow and deliberate body.

The Peninsula College Foundation, the nonprofit that raises funds to expand education opportunities for students and faculty research, received 394 applications for $150,000 in scholarships for the 2024-2025 academic year, Executive Director Cheryl Crane said. Students should know by the end of month if they have received funding. Twelve faculty projects received $18,000 in funding.

The foundation was considering expanding its nine-member board of directors by three to four to better represent the community, Crane said. The board is targeting recruitment at a member from the West End, someone involved in organized labor, people of color and individuals between 30 and 55 years old.

Anna Forrestal, director of the Port Townsend campus, said enrollment has been slowly increasing since 2020.

“It’s a small up, but it’s an up, so to me that’s a big step,” she said.

Among the new programs offered in Port Townsend are a certified nursing assistant class, developed in partnership with Jefferson Healthcare.

The college also has worked with Olympic Community of Health to provide wraparound services for students, similar to support available at the Port Angeles campus.