The Lake Washington School Board unanimously approved a three-year teachers contract on Monday, boosting some salaries by as much as 7 percent...

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The Lake Washington School Board unanimously approved a three-year teachers contract on Monday, boosting some salaries by as much as 7 percent and providing for fewer disruptions in the district’s calendar.

The Lake Washington Education Association approved the contract last week. More than 800 members voted, with 93 percent in favor.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Kevin Teeley, president of the teachers union. “I think it’s a great settlement for the association and the district both.”

The pay raises come at a time of increasing pressure for teachers, as they face new mandates from the state and federal government. Janene Fogard, deputy superintendent of the district, said the lower salaries put Lake Washington at risk for losing its high-quality teachers at a time when they needed those teachers most.

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“It’s a win-win for both parties,” said Fogard, of the contract.

The biggest salary boost will come for veteran teachers, who will receive a $5,000 bonus each year of the contract. Teeley described that money as an incentive to stay on the job, at a time when the state is focusing its pay raises on beginning teachers.

Salaries for veteran teachers in Lake Washington were particularly low, in comparison to districts such as Bellevue or Northshore, district officials said. Beyond the bonus, veteran teachers will also receive the state’s cost-of-living increase next year, as well as more money for classroom supplies. Together, that represents a 7 percent pay raise.

Under the new contract, beginning teachers will get an additional $500 for classroom supplies each year; together with the cost-of-living increase, that will mean a 2.6 percent raise for them next year.

The new contract also gives teachers the opportunity to pursue their National Board Certification without worrying about the cost of the course. The district will loan the teachers the $2,500 to pursue their certification. Teachers will repay that loan, without interest, after the state has paid them the $3,500 bonus that comes with completing the course.

The school calendar will also change under the new contract. In response to parent concerns, Fogard said, the new contract eliminates the eight half-days spread throughout the year. Instead, the district will let out an hour-and-a-half early every Wednesday.

The start date for school will be Aug. 31, 2005, and the last day June 16, 2006. The complete 2005-2006 calendar can be found on the district’s Web site:

The district and the association described the negotiations as collaborative.

“It’s really exciting to have a contract settlement before the end of the school year,” Teeley said. “We can have a great, smooth start in September.”

Cara Solomon: 206-464-2024 or