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Oak Harbor school salary budget cut talks under way

There’s very little chance that teachers will disrupt the start of school this fall over unmet salary expectations, according to Oak Harbor Education Association President Mike Watson.

The OHEA is currently in negotiations with the school district over how to deal with the Legislature’s mandated 1.9 percent salary budget cut to K-12 teachers for the 2011-2012 school year.

Watson said that the association’s hope is that its administrative colleagues on the school board recognize that its members aren’t going to donate professional services and are not going to work for free.

The 1.9 percent salary cut equates to roughly 3.5 teaching days. Watson said the association is asking that the district either require teachers to work fewer hours on certain days or to find another area to cut besides teachers’ pay. He said if the district should decide to cut elsewhere, it would take less than 1 percent of the budget.

The OHEA has met with the administrators a few times over the summer though a final agreement has yet to be reached. Watson said the OHEA has a collaborative and open relationship with the district.

“The school board is very responsive to our concerns,” Watson said. “It’s really nice to be able to work with people who have the best interests of our students at heart.”

In the 2011 legislative session, lawmakers also voted to cut administrative staff pay by 3 percent over the next two years. When the school board met on June 27, Superintendent Rick Schulte said he planned to reduce his annual compensation by between 2.5 and 6.3 percent by not claiming six to 15 vacation and optional days. His annual contract allows for four optional paid weekend days and up to 15 cash-out vacation days.

According to the budget submitted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the 2010-2011 school year, principals in the Oak Harbor School District average salaries range from $92,000 to $106,000 while the assistant superintendent and superintendent make more than $120,000 and $156,000, respectively.

The salary schedule for teachers ranges from $37,000 (zero years of service with a bachelor’s degree) to just over $70,000 (16 years or more experience with a master’s degree plus additional credits or a doctorate’s degree).

The Coupeville Education Association has not come to an agreement on the issue yet either, but the association Co-President Tacy Bigelow said the group will begin negotiations with the district next week.

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