West Ada reaches tentative labor agreement

After an all-day mediation session Friday, the West Ada School District could have a contract deal for 2016-17.

Teachers and trustees still must sign on. The West Ada Education Association will vote on the tentative agreement later this week; if the union ratifies the deal, the school board will vote on it on July 26, district spokesman Eric Exline said.

On average, teachers in Idaho’s largest district would receive a 5.3 percent pay raise. But the actual raises would vary widely; some teachers would be in line for a 9 percent increase, while teachers at the top end of the salary scale would receive an additional 2 percent.

These top-end salaries have been a sticking point in West Ada’s negotiations. It comes back to how much money a district can, and will, add to its teacher salary pool.

In West Ada, $48,200 is the tipping point; this is the maximum salary the state covers under the teacher salary “career ladder.”

About three-fourths of the district’s 2,000 teachers make less than $48,200. Under the tentative agreement, these teachers would receive pay raises as spelled out under the career ladder. West Ada’s remaining teachers make more than $48,200 — and they fall outside the career ladder, which front-loads most pay raises into the low end of the salary scale. West Ada’s tentative agreement would provide smaller raises to veteran teachers.

District administrators and classified staff would receive 3 percent raises, as covered under the career ladder law.

Teachers would work 185 days — still down from the 190-day contract in place before the recession. West Ada has restored nine classroom days since 2009-10, Exline said, but has not restored five staff training days.

West Ada is not the only district to go to contract mediation this year. In Eastern Idaho’s Sugar-Salem district, a mediation session is scheduled for July 25. (More on the Sugar-Salem negotiations from Idaho Education News’ Devin Bodkin.)

More reading: Click here for a statewide roundup on contract negotiations.