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Teachers very happy contract approved

New contract gives teachers a 4 percent raise each year for the next three years
by: Jonathan House, TEACHER APPROVAL — Tigard Tualatin Education Association President Al Spencer (far left) talks to teachers gathered in Tigard High School’s auditorium Jan. 9 to discuss the proposed contract with the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

Tigard-Tualatin teachers have approved a new three-year contract.

Nearly 700 teachers voted last week, and more than 70 percent voted to approve the contracts, said Tigard Tualatin Education Association President Al Spencer.

The approval comes after about nine months of negotiations between the TTEA and the Tigard-Tualatin School District. The previous teachers' contract expired in June 30, 2007. Since then, teachers had been working under the terms of the old contract. A tentative agreement was reached in mid-December.

On Wednesday, Jan. 9, before teachers started voting on the proposed contracts, a meeting was organized at Tigard High School in order for TTEA bargaining team members to answer questions about the contracts. Only about 30 teachers attended.

'I think most teachers were pretty confident in the job the team had done,' said TTEA bargaining team Chairman Mike Weinandy. 'I'm just happy that it passed. Very happy.'

The new contract gives teachers a 4 percent raise each year for the next three years, ends the district's two-tier approach to health insurance coverage, and gets rid of the district's tuition reimbursement cap which had previously been set at $110,000 for the program.

Tigard-Tualatin School Board Chairwoman Caroline Neunzert said Tuesday that the ratification of the contract was good news. The board approved the contract on Thursday, Jan. 10. The teachers' votes were tallied Monday evening.

'We have a competitive contract to recruit and retain good teachers, and that's good news for students,' Neunzert said.

The extended negotiations between the TTEA and the district led to a few demonstrations of support for a speedy resolution. On the night before the final negotiation session in December, about 250 people - teachers, parents and students - crowded into a School Board meeting carrying signs and buttons demanding a fair resolution to the protracted negotiations.

On Tuesday, Spencer said, 'There were a few (teachers) who voted against (the contract), and I understand their concerns. But we need to move forward.'