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Renton teachers, support staff ratify contracts

While there is the possibility of strikes in Seattle and Kitsap, Renton teachers and support professionals will be back at work on opening day.

The Renton School District reached agreements with both the Renton Education Association (REA) and the Renton Education Support Professionals (RESP) last week. Terms of the agreements were shared by each association at their annual general membership meetings.

With a record number of members in attendance at both meetings, REA and RESP members reviewed the terms and conditions outlined in the areas that cover compensation and working conditions. After the presentation of the terms of the agreements, the membership of each union had the opportunity to vote.

REA members voted to ratify the contract by an affirming 98 percent vote to accept the terms of the new contract. RESP members ratified the contract with a 100 percent of their members voting to approve of the new terms.

The terms of the agreements will now go before the Renton School Board for ratification at their Sept. 11, meeting.

The District and the Associations utilize a very collaborative process that focuses on identifying areas for focus and then creating solutions developed together. This problem solving approach has assisted the parties in taking steps to improve and implement new evaluation models for both groups and provided additional resources and supports for students receiving special education services.

Another focus for both the RESP and REA bargains was keeping the salaries in Renton competitive with surrounding area districts and creating a salary structure that will attract and retain high quality employees. Both groups will see increases in their overall salaries both years of the contract. These increases are funded through local dollars and are the only salary improvements these educators will see since the state has failed to provide cost of living increases for the past six years.

REA members will see an additional 2.38 percent increase for the 2013-2014 school year and an additional 2 percent for the 2014-2015 school year. These increases represent a combination of additional responsibility, especially around the new evaluation model and time to do work that supports the learning and instruction taking place at the building level to support all students.

"We are proud of the hard work and dedication that the REA and the district bargaining teams spent on working together and collaborating to help build a stronger contract that supports teachers so they can focus on students," said Cami Kiel, REA President.

RESP members will see an additional 4.01 percent increase to their salary for 2013-2014 school year. The parties also agreed to set aside a minimum of 2 percent in additional funds to the salary pool for the 2014-2015 school year but have not agreed on how these funds will be distributed.

“We appreciate the District’s efforts to develop a collaborative working relationship that continues to address concerns in order to support all employees in the Renton School District,” said Janie White, RESP President. “Together we support our students and families to achieve more in their lives.”

“I want to thank all of the members of the negotiating teams for their dedication and hard work that resulted in the overwhelming ratification of the two-year agreement,” said Renton Superintendent Dr. Merri Rieger. “The collaborative partnership between REA, RESP and the district is valued and shows our commitment to having all students succeed at a high level.”

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