New contract includes five days of paid parental leave, money for professional development and extra pay for special-education teachers.

Share story

In a preliminary vote Tuesday evening, Seattle School Board members signed off on the major components of the $57 million agreement reached between Seattle Public Schools and the union representing 6,000 of the city’s public-school employees.

The unanimous vote makes the 10.5 percent raises awarded under the new, $57 million contract effective by Oct. 1. The board will vote on the full and final version of the one-year contract by Oct. 31.

“It was a huge lift. People (staff and union members) lived here in the building,” said School Board President Leslie Harris during the meeting. “I think we did what we needed to do in a fiscally responsible manner given what the Legislature left on our doorstep.”

The “Memorandum of Understanding” the board approved, which includes the new salary schedules for employees, contains most of the benefits outlined in the summary of the contract released this month. Those include five days of paid parental leave, thousands of dollars in professional development and extra pay for special-education teachers who are responsible for more students because of staffing shortages.

Union members ratified the contract this month. Though Seattle averted a teachers strike, contentious negotiations in 13 other districts, including Tacoma and Vancouver, resulted in work stoppages lasting several days.

Teacher contracts reopened for negotiation around the state over the summer in part because a legislative package — that sought to resolve a long-running school-funding lawsuit, McCleary v. Washington awarded more money for teacher salaries.

An extra $45 million budget surplus for this school year will help pay for the raises. It’s unclear, though, how sustainable those raises will be. Phyllis Campano, president of the Seattle Education Association, said in early September that if the union and district can’t lobby the Legislature for more flexibility on the levy swap, there could be layoffs at the end of the school year.

“We’ll see everyone in Olympia,” Harris said just before the vote.

Board members also approved new Superintendent Denise Juneau’s evaluation rubric, and a $350,000 grant from the city (funded by the sweetened-beverage tax) to expand a fresh-fruits-and-vegetables program at 19 low-income schools.