Teachers, staff and administrators in Bend-La Pine Schools will receive cost-of-living raises in each of the next two years starting next school year — either at the start of the academic year or in December.

The Bend-La Pine School Board unanimously approved the raises, along with increased school district contributions to staff health insurance, at its Tuesday night meeting.

Teachers will receive 3% raises for each of the next two years. Classified staff ­— which includes bus drivers, nutritional staff and teaching assistants — will receive a 3.1% raise for the 2019-20 school year and a 3% increase in the 2020-21 school year.

The first raise for teachers and classified employees will be postponed until December 2019 due to financial constraints.

“It’s a benefit we believe our staff is due. We just can’t do that until December because of the budget,” district spokeswoman Julianne Repman said after the school board meeting.

Staff, administrators and supervisors will receive 2% raises for the next school year and 3% for 2020-21. Superintendent Shay Mikalson said this is meant to offset the rising costs of health premiums.

Bend-La Pine Schools will also contribute $45 more toward health insurance plans of all employees in 2019-20 and $50 more in 2020-21.

The teachers’ raise was first approved by the Bend Education Association before coming to the school board for approval. The classified employees union, Oregon School Employee Association, is expected to ratify its new wages in the fall, Mikalson said.

All teachers and classified staff, even those who have opted out of unions, will receive the raises.

This is the third straight year Bend-La Pine’s teachers have received cost-of-living increases, but in 2017 and 2018, the raises were only 2%.

The exact salary amounts, including the half-year raises for teachers and classified staff, will be calculated by the district soon, according to Andrea Wilson, the school board’s executive assistant.

This pay increase comes a week after teachers in Crook County Schools also negotiated raises, with the sharpest raises — about 11% — going toward first-year teachers with bachelor’s degrees.

Mikalson said he was proud of the agreements.

“Our teachers, support staff, administrators, supervisors, they’re what makes this a special place for kids,” he said after the board meeting. “We’re always looking to make sure we’re as competitive as we can be to recruit, retain and attract the very, very best.”

Board member Carrie Douglass said she was happy to approve the Bend-La Pine staff raises but hoped the Legislature would increase its education funding. “We feel good about this, but we need our state to back us up,” she said.

Janelle Rebick, president of the Bend Education Association, did not respond to a request for comment.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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