Bremerton makes deal with school support staff, quelling threat of work stoppage

A tentative agreement was reached on Wednesday.

Staff members at Bremerton schools are getting a raise.

The Bremerton School District struck a deal with K-12 support professionals this week, averting a walkout threatened by 185 unionized teacher aides, paraprofessionals and clerical staff during a board meeting on October 4.

“The district is very pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the BPEA,” superintendent Aaron Leavell said, referring to the Bremerton Professional Education Association. “I am proud of the proposed contract we have collectively arrived at.”

“Things went well,” Ed Angelbeck, a staff spokesperson said of talks with school district negotiators on Wednesday. A local paraeducator for 17 years , Angelbeck is the president of the local chapter of the Public School Employees of Washington, a statewide labor union representing school support professionals.

Details of the agreement were not forthcoming because it is still tentative. Angelbeck said a percentege increase “in the double-digit area” is expected.

Non-certified staff in the Bremerton School District are some of the lowest paid in the county, with hourly rates starting at $14.55, and a majority working part-time. By comparison, hourly rates for classified staff on Bainbridge Island start at $19.50.

Angelbeck said he and fellow employees saw teachers and classified staff around the region getting pay bumps this year, and decided to advocate for one themselves.

Thousands of educators across the region – including all of Kitsap County’s teachers – received raises this year, ranging from 19 percent on Bainbridge Island to up to 45 percent in the Central Kitsap School District. Classified staff in Central Kitsap, South Kitsap and Bainbridge Island also received pay increases.

“We looked at them and we saw the pay raises, and said, ‘we need to ask for something like this,” Angelbeck said.

A ratification meeting for the new contract is planned for November 7.

Until then, Leavell said, the district “will be working with the [BPEA] on the draft document for presentation to their membership,” and “ultimately to the Bremerton School Board of Directors for final approval.”