Snoqualmie Valley School District and Teachers union reach conceptual agreement on new pay schedule

UPDATE |  Thursday, August 23, 2018

Late Wednesday night the Snoqualmie Valley School District issued an announcement that a pay schedule agreement with the teachers union had been reached:

August 22nd, a conceptual agreement between the Snoqualmie Valley Education Association (SVEA) and the Snoqualmie Valley School District has been reached around new compensation parameters. From the start, the District, School Board and SVEA Bargaining teams have been working towards a fair and competitive compensation package for all SVEA members.

“We are delighted that an agreement is in the works,” Superintendent Dr. Rob Manahan stated. “We want to thank the teams for their time and dedication to the process. I have appreciated the collaborative effort on all sides to reach an outcome that is mutually agreeable.”

The Bargaining Teams are working diligently to try and wrap up a few final details prior to the start of the school year. SVEA President Nate Ziemkowski stated, “It is important that we have additional time to finalize the salary schedule and contract language before bringing forward a Tentative Agreement. We thank all stakeholders for their patience and support during this process.SVEA has a general membership meeting scheduled for August 23rd, and additional updates will be provided to SVEA members at that time.”



On Monday, August 20th, the Snoqualmie Valley Education Association held a rally before its negotiation team continued talks with the district for a new pay schedule. The new schedule is expected to bring substantial pay increases for teachers courtesy of the McCleary decision that pumped millions more into school districts across the state.  This was the last of four scheduled negotiation sessions that started on August 14th.

The talks went into the night, but ended without a tentative agreement. School starts on August 29th.

Sources familiar with the negotiations say there are still some sticking points and that another negotiation session wouldn’t happen until Monday, August 27th – two days before the new school year begins.

After three hours of negotiation last Friday, August 17th, SVEA reported on its Facebook page that progress was made, but there was still work to do to get competitive salaries for all union members. The union had reported that the two sides were still far apart after the first two negotiation sessions.

At another union rally on Friday, members stated they were prepared to fight for wages competitive with other Eastside districts like Lake Washington, Bellevue, Issaquah and Riverview, which recently reached a tentative agreement that bumped starting teachers up to about $55,000 per year and the most tenured teachers up to about $106,600 per year. The nearby Tahoma School District is also still negotiating with teachers.

On Monday, the SVEA council representatives passed a resolution stating they were willing to do “whatever is necessary” to secure a new pay schedule that will attract and retain caring, committed, qualified teachers for students.

SVEA has a general membership meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 23rd to discuss the status of the negotiations. It is  possible the membership could vote to authorize a potential strike at the meeting or to start the school year while negotiations continue. No one from the union has formally stated yet that a strike is a possibility, but posturing with other statements has occurred.

The union is currently entering the third year of a three-year contract, but contract terms allowed pay schedule negotiations to be opened up when the state distributed new McCleary money for teacher salaries, which happened this year.

In the 2017-18 school year, starting teachers in the Snoqualmie Valley made about $49,000/year and the most experienced teachers made about $89,000/year. According to SVEA President Nate Ziemkowski, the state gave SVSD an additional $8.4 million for teacher compensation this year.

In the district’s approved 2018-19 budget, an additional [approximate] $3 million (a 10% increase) was earmarked for raises for existing teachers and another $3 million for salaries to hire new teachers to lower class size. Another additional $3 million was reserved for staff benefits, including insurance and pension costs. With the current estimated staff salary expenditures, the district’s 4-year budget shows it running at a deficit for two of the next four years. (Employee – certified, classified and administration – salaries and benefits account for about 80% of the district’s annual budget.)

Neither side released many details regarding what type of raises had been presented over the past four negotiation sessions or what the sticking points were. The union stated at Monday’s rally that it does not want to be the lowest paid of its Eastside neighbors.

Historic raises were recently negotiated in other Eastside districts. Bellevue approved a 17% average increase and Lake Washington and Riverview each approved 12% average increases. At Monday’s SVEA rally, an Issaquah Education Association representative reported they had reached a tentative agreement for a 16% increase.

Superintendent Rob Manahan commented Tuesday afternoon that he was confident an agreement could be reached, possibly even by the end of Tuesday.

Last week the SVEA and SVSD released a joint statement saying:

 “The collective bargaining agreement between the Snoqualmie Valley Education Association (SVEA) and the Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) contained a “re-opener” to look at the contract’s salary schedule in the spring of 2018, to evaluate whether it was still competitive with neighboring school districts. Additionally, new legislative changes related to the McCleary Decision have necessitated the development of a completely new salary schedule, adding to the complexity of the work. The SVEA/SVSD Bargaining Team has met several times over the last few months to collaboratively discuss, evaluate and consider enhancements to develop a new salary schedule to ensure the Snoqualmie Valley School District is competitive. While differences remain to be resolved, both SVEA and SVSD are committed to a speedy resolution.

SVEA and SVSD appreciate the time that all the bargaining team members have devoted to the process and their ongoing commitment to reaching a fair and sustainable agreement that will provide educators with competitive compensation.”


SVEA union rally at Timber Ridge ES on Friday, August 17, 2018.




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