No salary, benefits changes for Oak Harbor teachers
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
June 29, 2012 · Updated 2:08 PM
Monday evening, the Oak Harbor School Board approved a one-year contract between the school district and Oak Harbor Education Association, the teachers union, that made no changes to teacher pay or benefits.
More than 70 percent of teachers voted to ratify the contract, said Peter Szalai, president of OHEA.
No changes in pay, benefits or TRI days were made due to the fear of mid-year sequestration next school year, said Kurt Schonberg, lead negotiator for the school district. Congress is under deadline to make forced budget cuts, threatening a 10-percent across the board cut of federal money, which includes Impact Aid, funding the school district receives in lieu of property tax on government property. Potentially, as much as $1.5 million could be cut from Impact Aid for the school district.
One change in the contract is that teachers will use the afternoon after school on three early release Mondays to learn about and discuss the state’s new teacher and principal evaluation program. The 34 total early release afternoons are still considered work days for teachers as they spend the time meeting, grading and performing other school-related tasks.
“We’re not giving them anything new. It’s no new money,” Schonberg said, adding that this is a way to recognize the sizable amount of work teachers and principals have to do in order to learn the new evaluation program.
The method of handling the state’s 1.9 percent pay cut to teachers last year will be handled the same way this year. Again, teachers won’t work three and one-half half-days of school, resulting in less pay.
As to whether everyone is satisfied with the contract, Schonberg said, “It’s a one-year deal. It means we’ll be back at the table next March. Hopefully the federal and state governments will have painted a clearer picture for us of where we are with funding.”
“Labor and management relations continue to be good,” Szalai said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.