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Tacoma teachers, district battle over salary

The Tacoma School District says it budged and has offered teachers what they have been demanding — a bigger raise. The teachers, however, say it’s not true.

“Our proposal represents a 12.45 increase in teacher salaries,” said Dan Voepel, spokesperson for Tacoma Public Schools. “The median and high salaries are above all of our competitive surrounding districts, and the low entry-level salary is near the middle of surrounding school districts.”

RELATED: Legislators urge Tacoma district, teachers to solve contract issues

Voepel says the offer will deepen the district’s deficit to $35 million over the 2019-20 school year. The proposal represents a bump of $18.7 million toward salaries. Teachers, however, argue that this is a dishonest assessment.

“If it was a true 12.5 percent raise, I could probably take the offer to my teachers and see what they think,” said Angel Morton with the Tacoma Education Association. “We don’t know how they are coming up with their percentage points …. Their numbers for salary offers still do not match at middle experience and higher experience levels that other districts are getting. And they’re coming to that number by taking away two student days.”

“I don’t know why he said that,” she said. “Because I’m sitting here with two salary schedules. I’m looking at the Puyallup salary schedule and I’m looking at the Tacoma salary schedule and I can see that somebody with a masters in Puyallup would be making $6,000 more in the 16th year of their career.”

The teachers also posted a response on their Facebook page, stating:

The district has stated that they proposed a 12 percent increase in salary, and this just isn’t true. What we are finding is that the district is not being honest with how they are costing their proposals. They won’t share how they are reaching these values, it’s like a shell game, smoke and mirrors, or both … Their current salary increase offer still leaves us below the middle salary range compared to neighboring districts. Last night, TEA submitted a proposal to the district and we are waiting for a response when we come to the table at 10 a.m. this morning.

RELATED: Why Tacoma teachers are still on strike

The teachers’ union and the district are expected to meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday to further negotiate the contract. A state arbitrator has been called in to help solve the issue. That arbitration process will continue.

 

Battle Ground teachers are also on strike.

KIRO Radio contributed to this report.

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