The Washington, D.C. Council is expected to vote on a proposed contract to raise D.C. Public Schools teachers’ salaries Oct. 3, following five years without a contract between teachers and the city’s public school system.
If approved, the contract between the District’s public school teachers’ union and city officials would raise the salaries of more than 4,500 teachers by 9 percent over three years. The current starting annual salary for DCPS teachers is $51,359.
The proposed yearly salary increases start retroactively from the 2016-17 school year, with a 4 percent increase for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, followed by a 3 percent increase the next year and a 2 percent increase the year after that. The raises for public school teachers would cost the city $61.6 million, plus an additional $51.2 million for public charter school teachers, who legally must receive salaries equal to their public school counterparts.
The D.C. Council’s approval is required to formally ratify the contract after a tentative agreement was reached between the teachers’ union and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).
In a press release announcing the tentative agreement, Bowser noted that the city has invested billions into its school system in recent years. Bowser said approving the contract would bring an end to a distracting and contentious debate for teachers.
“For too long, our teachers have not been shown the appreciation nor presented the compensation they deserve,” the statement read. “But with this agreement, together we will give our teachers their proper due and send a clear signal that we are all in for kids.”
Janae Hinson, deputy press secretary for D.C. Public Schools, said DCPS hopes the contract would encourage more teachers to continue working for the District. More than 200 DCPS teachers quit their jobs during the 2016-17 school year alone, leaving vacancies that principals scrambled to fill. Hinson praised DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson, who began in his job in February 2017, as key to finding common ground for the city and teachers’ union.
“DC Public Schools is committed to creating an environment of opportunities and compensation that encourages educators to continue their careers in DCPS,” Hinson wrote in a statement to The Hoya. “We are confident that the new teachers’ contract will build upon that foundation by providing teachers with the additional professional compensation and benefits they deserve.”
Hinson commended other city and union leaders for being able to come to an agreement. She noted that ensuring teacher satisfaction and success would help DCPS fulfill its five-year plan for 2017-22 by helping more students gain proficiency in necessary skills such as reading and college preparedness.
On Sept. 8, 97 percent of voting Washington Teachers’ Union members approved the contract with the city. WTU president Elizabeth Davis praised city officials for working with the union to ensure what she said was a fair pay raise.
“DC school administrators, under the leadership of Chancellor Antwan Wilson, are signaling their willingness to take the first step in beginning to develop a truly collaborative relationship with DC educators,” Davis said in a press release. “[We need] to ensure that all DC public school students receive the education they deserve.”
She said a section of the new contract that will allow teachers to have more control over their own curriculum is an important way to improve the quality of DCPS.
“Many of our members remained on the job with no pay raise for the last five years because they love their students and believe they deserve the best,” Davis said. “They stayed despite their frustration with an administration that failed to recognize that they have an important contribution to make when it comes to developing educational programs and policies.”
Davis said negotiations for the next contract between the WTU and the city would begin later next year if the contract is ratified by the Council. These talks will focus more heavily on finding solutions to the turnover rate for D.C. public school teachers, which a study by the Shanker Institute in 2014 found was nearly 25 percent annually.