School will start Thursday, Sept. 8 in the Kent School District. COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent School District

School will start Thursday, Sept. 8 in the Kent School District. COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent School District

Back to school: Kent teachers ratify new contract | Update

67% of teachers voted to approve two-year deal; new contract includes 7% wage hike in 2022-2023;

Teachers with the Kent Education Association (KEA, union) approved a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday night, Sept. 7 at the Kent-Meridian High School gym.

Classes will begin Thursday, Sept. 8 in the Kent School District after a nine-day strike delayed the start from Aug. 25.

The union and district agreed to a two-year contract. It was a 67% vote by teachers to approve the contract, according to KEA.

The highlights, according to a KEA news release, include:

• Additional training and collaboration time

• Improved incentives to encourage the district to:

Fill paraeducator positions

Keep class sizes smaller

Keep caseloads manageable for occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech language pathologists

• New wage ranges that mean Kent is competitive with area districts:

7% increase in the 2022-23 school year

1% + inflationary increase funded by the state

Bargaining teams from the district and the union met throughout the weekend and reached a tentative agreement at 2:43 a.m. Wednesday morning. Picket lines were called off for Wednesday, but community activities such as lunch distribution, backpack giveaways and teacher story times went on as planned Wednesday afternoon, according to the KEA.

KEA is made up of 1,700 classroom teachers in the Kent School District. Unions representing other staff have also been facing difficult negotiations with the district this year. KEA is affiliated with the statewide Washington Education Association and National Education Association, both of which represent K-12 teachers, support staff and higher-education employees.

School district response

“We are pleased to announce KEA ratified the contract tonight and we look forward to starting the school year and welcoming students tomorrow (Thursday)”, according to a district statement.

Additional schedule information for families:

• Grades 1-12 start Thursday, Sept. 8

• Kindergarten students start Tuesday, Sept. 13

• Meridian Preschool, Park Orchard Preschool, and Early Childhood Special Education Preschool (ECSE) start Tuesday, Sept. 13

• Kentridge and Kentwood high school day cares, and KYFS Head Start/ECEAP: Please contact your child’s school starting Thursday, Sept. 8 for schedule updates.

• Middle school athletics begin on Friday, Sept. 9.

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