Update: I’ve updated the early release section. New comments are in italics.
The Bellingham School Board approved the three-year teacher contract Thursday night, Sept. 8.
The Bellingham Education Association, the teacher’s union, approved the contract Tuesday.
According to a press release from the district, the contract contains the following:
- Time for parent-teacher conferences built into the calendar. For elementary schools, fall conferences will be offered on three Wednesday early release days – Oct. 5, 19 and Nov. 2, both in the afternoon and evening. Part of Oct. 28 is also approved for conferences, if needed, and some of March 23 (a teacher workday and non-student day) can also be used for conferences with families that need it. Middle school students will have conferences at the same time as in the past – the five days leading up to Thanksgiving Break – but how the conferences are structured may change for the 2012-13 school year.
- Elementary teachers will be released from classes for two days to do district-directed elementary assessments. Substitute teachers will be used on those days.
- Increased number of early release days for middle and high schools. One elementary early release Wednesday each month was changed to districtwide early release days. Early release days for middle school conferences were added before Thanksgiving. A districtwide early release day was also added right before Spring Break. There is at least one districtwide early release day per month, except for September. Some of the days will be used for teacher professional development, collaboration and work time; some of the time is traded for working evenings during conferences and senior culminating project presentations.
- Early release day is added prior to spring break as a trade to teachers for working during conferences.
- Teachers have four work days/collaboration days throughout the school year. One was the day before school started. Three of the four will mostly be building-based work, with teachers collaborating, doing professional development, or working on their own stuff. The fourth day includes district-level work. Three of the days will be for professional development, collaboration and planning within school buildings. The fourth day is for teachers to do whatever they need to do, at school or somewhere else.
- The district will cover the 1.9 percent salary reduction that was enacted by the state Legislature for all public school teachers. In the second year of the contract, teachers will get a 1 percent raise, and a 1.75 percent raise in the third year.
- Money for teachers who have large class sizes has been eliminated, and much of the individual teacher money for professional development, with it being used to cover teacher salaries. About 75 percent of the combined funds, which is about $575 per full-time teacher, is being moved to salary, leaving about $192 per full-time teacher for individual professional development funds. In the past, teachers with large class sizes were able to get additional pay.
- The district will pay an additional $5 per month per full-time district employee for health insurance. The amount will increase by $5 per year of the contract.
Calendar changes include:
- The last day of school is June 20.
- The following Wednesdays are early release for all students: Oct. 5, Nov. 2, Nov. 23 (this was always early release for all), Dec. 7, Dec. 16, Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 7, March 30, April 18, and May 30.
- The teacher work day in January was moved to Feb. 3.
The BEA was on strike for one day during contract negotiations, moving the first day of school back a day. During the strike, the BEA said the main sticking points related to early release days for conference time (which had not been included in the calendar), professional development time, and class sizes. The district said at the time that most discussions were related to salary.
An updated 2011-12 school calendar is available here.