Paraeducator negotiations at impasse

PORT ANGELES — Representatives of the Port Angeles School District and the Port Angeles Paraeducator Association said a Feb. 7 meeting with a mediator from the Public Employments Relations Commission failed to lead to an agreement about a contract.

The district and the PAPEA canceled a Thursday bargaining session, citing the need for more time before they next meet.

The two sides are at an impasse over pay; the paraeducators are seeking the same 3.7 percent increase in hourly wages that teachers and counselors bargained for in their contract for the 2023-2024 school year.

The district has said there is no capacity in this year’s budget to pay what the paraeducators are asking.

The salary schedule in the paraeducators’ contract that expired Aug. 31 was based on 184 working days and paid an hourly wage ranging from $21.68 to $28.33 depending on years of experience.

Washington lawmakers had this session considered two bills requested by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to increase paraeducator wages. House Bill 2380 and companion Senate Bill 6082 would have added $705 million to the state’s supplemental budget over the next four years to raise their pay by a statewide average of $7 an hour. Both died in committee.

However, Senate Bill 5882 and companion House Bill 1960 to increase the staffing allocations for classified staff, including paraeducators, were both still alive as of Tuesday.

Some districts have independently raised paraeducator salaries. The Everett School Board on Jan. 30 approved an hourly pay increase of one to two dollars, according to the Everett Herald. According to OSPI, the Everett School District had a 2023-24 enrollment of 20,314 students while Port Angeles had an enrollment of 3,544.

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Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@albmedia.app.