Hoquiam teachers will get pay raises ranging from 17.6 percent to 21.3 percent under their new two-year contract, approved by the school board at a special meeting Tuesday morning.
As reported by Hoquiam Teachers Association president Laurie Gordon after the union tentatively approved the contract Oct. 10, teacher salaries will range between $47,560 annually for beginning teachers to $92,533 for the most experienced teachers at the top of the scale. New salaries kick in at the end of the month.
Superintendent Mike Villarreal said the contract includes a 3 percent raise in 2019, bringing a beginning teacher’s base pay to $47,922 and an experienced teacher — one with a Master’s Degree or PhD with 16 or more years experience — to $95,309.
Salaries in the contract are based on the 180 classroom days teachers work. At the top end of the scale, the most experienced teachers will make about $530 per classroom day in 2019.
Villarreal said the percent raises were the result of long negotiations, with the lower increases going to teachers with less experience, the 21-plus-percent raises going to teachers at the top of the experience scale.
For comparison, a teacher in the mid-range of the scale, per the contract, one with eight years experience and a Master’s Degree, will make $64,075 in the first year of the contract, $65,997 in the second.
Villarreal said the district could be looking at some tough decisions as he continues with negotiations now with classified staff, generally defined as support staff, such as custodians, cooks, paraprofessionals and some office personnel. Then, he will tackle negotiations with administrative staff. There’s only so much money to go around and the district will have to take a hard look at programs and how they can be sustained, he said.
“We will be looking at all our programs,” said Villarreal, adding they will each be assessed on a “want vs. need” basis. Is the program something the district needs, or something it wants, and if it can continue to function under an ever-tightening budget.
He said it costs about $1 million annually for programs, which can range from the arts to activities such as field trips.
Gordon said the new contract includes some changes to personal days, giving teachers one not deducted from sick leave the first year, and two personal days not deducted the second year. Villarreal said this policy puts Hoquiam more in line with the policy of other districts within the state.
Provisions of the approved contracts provide “additional resources for special education” if the caseloads warrant them, said Villarreal. Depending on the number of students, these provisions can include a day a month to manage their cases, increased support from other teachers or staff, and per diem compensation for work done outside school days.
Grays Harbor County in general faces special complications when it comes to providing special education. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, statewide about 14 percent of students overall receive special education services in the state. That number is closer to 18-20 percent locally, said Villarreal.