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New cost of living increases are included in contracts for district educators and employees. 

The Lake Oswego School Board approved new contracts for district employees during its June 21 meeting.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Stuart Ketzler, Human Resources Director Donna Atherton and Superintendent Jennifer Schiele brought forward the proposed contracts, which were collectively bargained between the Lake Oswego School district, the Lake Oswego Education Association (LOEA) and the Lake Oswego School Employees Association (LOSEA).

The new agreements will become effective on July 1, replacing the expiring contract approved in 2017.

Contract negotiations have been in the works for several months. The increases will help the district to remain competitive as it seeks to hire and retain the "best educators and staff," according to a press release sent to the community.

LOEA employees will receive a cost of living increase of 6% in the first year and 4% in the second year of the contract.

"It was very important to our members that we were able to negotiate a cost of living adjustment that could help keep pace with inflation.  No one enters into a profession in education with the goal of making money, and with the rise in prices from the grocery store to the gas pump, it has been more difficult for educators to support their families and enjoy a good quality of life.  We are incredibly grateful to the District for coming to this agreement with us and supporting our staff during this time," Kelly Fitzsimmons, president of the teacher's union said to the Review.

Employees who are part of LOSEA will receive a cost of living increase of 5% in the first year and 4% in the second year, plus a one-time adjustment to increase their gross pay by an additional 6.95% in the first year and "shift to a 6% Individual Account Program contribution from a district cost to an employee deduction," according to the press release.

"An enormous amount of work has gone into this (agreement) … what a gift to get here," Board Chair Kirsten Aird said. "We know that this is not happening to everyone around the state. I couldn't be more proud to be part of this school district, because that's hard work."

Although a majority of district employees are represented by the two employee associations, the district also employs other individuals who are not represented by a bargaining unit. Schiele presented all of the new contracts for miscellaneous staff, including administrators, directors, confidential employees and professionals such as nurses. The contracts will also last two years and increase the cost of living by up to 5% for the first year and 4% for the second year.

For substitute teachers, the district will now offer $202 per day. The Oregon Department of Education established a minimum daily rate that must be paid to substitute teachers, which for 2022-23 is $201.01 per day. Schiele recommended the district's substitute rate as $202 per day.

Long-term substitutes will be paid $240 per day, according to Schiele.

"These rates are very similar to what's set by our neighboring districts, who we compete with for substitutes," Schiele said.

Classified substitutes will see an hourly rate increase of 5%, and home instruction teachers will take home $41.57 per hour plus mileage. Summer employees will also receive a 5% increase in their salaries, or the current minimum wage. Schiele said that whichever was greater would be given to employees.

"As has been the case in the past, the district and both of its employee associations have approached contract negotiations as a collaborative problem-solving process," the press release stated. "The positive representation and leadership exhibited by all parties have produced agreements that reflect professional esteem for each other. The ability of the district and its employee associations to work together through the difficult impacts of the pandemic will benefit students, staff and the community."

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