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Lake Washington School District Extends Current Contract with Teachers

An ongoing lack in state funding has prompted the district and teachers' union to retain their current contract for the second year in a row.

Teachers in the  (LWSD) will once again work under their current contract after union representatives and district officials decided to extend the instructors' collective bargaining agreement for an additional year.

The agreement to extend the contract, announced by the district in a news release Wednesday, is the result of an ongoing lack of state funding for public education, both sides said. LWSD spokeswoman Kathryn Reith said the district typically renegotiates teacher contracts every three years and that this will be the second year in a row the current agreement has been extended.

The agreement was applauded by both the district and the Lake Washington Education Association (LWEA), the group representing the teachers. Kevin Teeley, LWEA president, said the association's members voted 96.5 percent in favor of the extension. 

Despite the consensus, Teeley said the district's teachers are frustrated by the lack of funding. The last pay raise they received was in 2008, he said.

“It’s been very very difficult," he said. "It’s been very frustrating that the state legislature hasn’t been fully funding public education.”

In the news release, Teeley said LWEA is hopeful a will force the Washington state legislature to return funding to public education.

Meanwhile, Reith said district officials and teachers alike realize there isn't any extra revenue to float around.

“Generally, (there's a) feeling that there’s not a whole lot of room to maneuver on either side at this point,” she said.

Teeley said he expects a new contract will be negotiated next year.

In related news, the district also finalized its 2012-2013 calendar this week. The last day of school will be June 19, and secondary students will begin the school year a day early on Sept. 4 to transition into the district's new grade configuration.

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