A majority of Seattle teachers voted to approve a new contract deal on Tuesday between Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the teachers union.
The new contract deal allows for an increase in teachers' wages and includes provisions aimed at hiring and retaining teachers.
“This was an important day and the approval of the contract was an important moment. I want to send out a big thanks to the joint bargaining teams. Now it's time to get to the crucial work of educating our students. We are looking forward to seeing them again and when they come back to school on September 4th, they’ll be met by a dedicated team of the best educators in the country," said Denise Juneau, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent.
“Seattle educators stand united for our students,” said Phyllis Campano, Seattle Education Association (SEA) president. “Our new contract is focused on what’s best for our students. We are proud of the progress we’ve made, and we know that our union must continue to advocate for the resources and support our students need and deserve.”
Highlights of the three-year deal include competitive pay raises for educators, support for school racial equity teams and additional staff, including nurses and counselors.
The contract was approved with a majority 88 percent approval.
The agreement comes after the union's increased public demonstrations.
Caitlin Honing, a Franklin High School teacher, said she voted "no" because she thought a better agreement could have been made when it came to pay.
"I know multiple great educators who I went to school with, who wanted to work in SPS, but can't transfer down here because they'd be taking a $10,000 to $15,000 (pay cut) and it's more expensive to live here so compensation was okay but I think it could've been a lot better," she said.
SEA represents more than 6,000 teachers, office professionals, paraeducators and substitute educators.
SPS teachers received a 10.5% salary increase last year as part of a one-year agreement that was reached after the union authorized a strike.
Over a period of four years, these teachers will get a 21.6% raise.
A first-year teacher with a master’s degree earns $69,800 for the school year, according to the district.
Now the school board needs to approve the new contract.
With the approval of the contract, school can start as-scheduled.