Federal Way Public Schools approved its tentative collective bargaining agreement with the Federal Way Education Association at Tuesday’s school board meeting. JEROD YOUNG, the Mirror

Federal Way school board approves collective bargaining agreement

Federal Way Public Schools and the Federal Way Education Association reached a tentative agreement on a compensation package for district staff.

The Federal Way Public Schools school board approved the one-year agreement Tuesday.

All educational support professionals will receive a 2.3 percent [state] cost-of-living adjustment, whereas certified teaching staff will receive a 7.95 percent increase [local funding] in compensation and a 2.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment.

The agreement also states support staff will see a 6.36 percent increase in hourly wages, which was applied to the 2016-17 salary schedule, and a one-time bonus of $227.25, which they will receive in November.

Now that the district has approved the agreement, the FWEA and the district will finalize the language and create the final official contract in the next two weeks.

“I want to commend the entire team, both FWPS and FWEA, for their efforts and long hours at the bargaining table to reach a final agreement,” Federal Way Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell said in an email. “They co-created a collaborative agreement that provides a much-needed increase in salaries for our staff, while positioning us to accomplish the goals in our strategic plan.”

Despite a tentative agreement, there is a lot of work to be done before Federal Way staff see a significant change in salary.

The agreement approved by the school board is the equivalent of a temporary fix. The district’s biggest hurdle is the Washington State Legislature.

Federal Way schools suffer from what Federal Way Education Association President Shannon McCann referred to as the “regionalization factor.”

In short, Federal Way educators are stuck. They receive a lower salary rate than their neighboring districts. While the McCleary funding solution gave some reprieve, the rate of compensation was the lowest in King County.

“The future of salaries in Federal Way will be different,” McCann said. “There are restrictions on collective bargaining and salary. The legislature has basically said they are going to leave Federal Way behind.”

The reason for this has to do with city’s equity and property value in a 15-mile radius.

McCann said the hypothesis within the FWEA is that Federal Way got sucked into a property value grouping with north Tacoma and central Kitsap, and it decimated Federal Way’s property value.

“It’s very mysterious and arbitrary, in terms of the formula that has been applied to Federal Way,” McCann said. “It’s such a disservice to our community for educators and students.”

For the time being, Federal Way Public Schools educators and support staff are getting a much-needed bump in compensation with this new agreement.

However, both the district and FWEA agree more work can and should be done for educators at both the state and local levels.

“The district has a long-standing commitment to ensuring our teachers are competitively compensated,” Campbell said. “Unfortunately, the Washington State Legislature’s adoption of a regionalization funding factor for salaries makes it extremely difficult for us to compete in our region as we will once again receive less funding than many of our surrounding school districts.”

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