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Toppenish teachers get higher pay they wanted

Toppenish teachers get higher pay they wanted

TOPPENISH, Wash. -- Teachers across Yakima valley have been fighting all summer for a pay increase.

Toppenish teachers reached an agreement on Monday and it was higher than the eight percent increase the district initially offered.

RELATED: Toppenish teachers asking for their "fair share"

According to the Toppenish School District, the increase can range from 16 to 22 percent, depending on the educators' amount of experience.

They said this could mean a $10,000 increase for beginning teachers and around $20,000 for those more seasoned.

Lead Bargainer Terri Winckler has been a teacher in Toppenish for 26 years and said there was an eight-year period they didn't get a pay raise at all but cost of living continued to go up.

"I was actually, for myself, going backwards in pay because insurance was going up," Winckler said. "I was seeing anywhere between a 100 to 200 decrease on my take home pay each month."

Toppenish Education Association Co-President Katie Haynes is a 5th grade teacher and said this pay raise will be life changing.

"You're constantly forced to make choices in generic brands versus name brands, things like that, daily choices to make your money go as far as it can," Haynes said. "Now this gives our members a little bit of freedom in those choices."

Business Manager of the Toppenish School District David Andrews said negotiations went well and they have to take care of their teachers.

"We care a lot about our teachers and we're going to work very hard to move money around to accommodate this salary," Andrews said.

He said money to pay for teachers' salaries will come from cuts to supplies and materials, maintenance and enrichment.

Winckler said she hopes their agreement can create a domino effect for others schools districts who are currently negotiating their contracts.

"I just hope that all negotiations go like ours did and teachers get what is rightfully deserved, after eight years of absolutely nothing," she said.

The agreement goes before the Toppenish School Board on August 28 and if approved will take effect in September.

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