The District of Columbia school teachers officially approved their new contract, which is the first contract they have had since 2019. The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) held a contract vote among their members and it passed by a large margin.
WTOP reported that the vote passed with a huge majority of 3,445 votes in favor to only 29 against the new contract. WTU represents around 5,500 teachers in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) system.
WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons was quick to complain about the prolonged negotiation process, “D.C. teachers felt insulted for having to work under a long-expired contract, but they never gave up on their commitment to their kids throughout the COVID-19 challenges and as inflation soared with no pay raises. Teachers deserved better but were buoyed by the enormous support they received from parents and the greater community.” Lyons also praised the new contract, calling it a “huge win” for teachers.
The most important parts of the new contract, negotiated between DCPS and WTU, give a 12% pay raise (retroactive for the past three years where teachers worked without a contract) and a 4% retention bonus for every teacher.
Here are the other highlights of the new contract, which starts retroactively from 2019 and goes through the 2022-2023 school year:
- Each year, there will be salary increases of 2%, 2.5%, 3.5%, and 4% each year, which comes to the 12% total mentioned previously
- Overtime administrative premium goes up to $60 per hour
- Teacher’s starting salary increases to $63,373 from $56,313 a year. The highest salary, where a teacher works over 21 years and has a master’s degree, went up from $116,408 to $131,000
- New teachers get a $7,060 pay bump, while teachers with high salaries will get a $14,595 increase
- The retroactive pay will go into effect on September 30, 2023 and range between $18,000 to $37,000
- Special education teachers who handle administrative tasks get a $1,500 stipend
- There is also a $1,500 stipend for positions difficult to fill, such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists, English as a second language teachers, social workers, psychologists, and teachers in special education, math, science, and world language
- There are concessions for supplies, such as teachers getting $250 for classroom supplies (a $50 increase from the last contract)
- Athletic trainers receive $250 more in funds for purchasing training supplies
- All teachers will have at least two morning blocks per week of planning time
Despite the mix of complaints and praise, Lyons failed to recognize that it was partly WTU’s fault for not getting a contract done for the past three years when the previous contract expired. Neither did Lyons point out that, even with pay increases and concessions from DCPS, D.C. student test scores are at rock-bottom compared to the rest of the country.
The next step, after the WTU members approved the contract, is for the contract to go before the D.C. City Council for approval.