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Tentative contract agreement reached to provide DC teachers raises

The deal includes a 12% raise over four years, paid benefits and a 4% retention bonus.

WASHINGTON — D.C. teachers could soon start to see more competitive salaries over the next few years due to a tentative contract agreement reached between the teacher's union and city leaders, according to a Wednesday announcement from Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The mayor said that DC Public Schools (DCPS) and WTU leadership reached the tentative agreement for the more than 5,000 educators across the school system.

"Today, we are proud to reach an agreement that delivers robust back pay in recognition of the tireless efforts and sacrifice our teachers have made over the past three years," Mayor Bowser said. "With a 12% increase in salary over four years and a 4% retention bonus, this agreement provides our educators with competitive raises that will help the District to retain and attract the best talent for our schools."

WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons said timing is everything. As of September, DCPS had 150 staff openings. She feared that number would spike since teachers tend to leave for other counties or professions around this time, but hopes the promise of a new contract will be the incentive teachers need to keep them in the classrooms.

"We know we can get great teachers, but we're having challenges in the D.C. area, keeping them," Pogue Lyons said. "And one way that we can keep them is paying them fairly, especially because many of our teachers are young, they're starting families. And so they need things like a fair compensation, great benefits."

The last teacher contract was in 2019. The terms of this contract cover the years 2020-2024 so the parties will return to the negotiating table next year. The agreement would not only boost moral with better pay and benefits, but the mayor says it will also reflect the respect the District has for teachers and the work they do for D.C.’s students. But, she says the work will only continue as government works closely to with local schools, teachers, and students.

"We certainly thought about the moment we are in," DCPS Chancellor Dr. Lewis Ferebee said. "We know that the cost of living for most Americans is very different than what it was compared to our last contract. We also know that our teachers helped us navigate through a very challenging time for you to in the pandemic. And the retroactive pay was important to go back over the last three years to ensure that our teachers know we appreciate them, and we were grateful for their work during that time period."

Pogue Lyons said they’ll continue to work with the administration to address ongoing problems like building conditions and HVAC systems. Other demands for their next contract will include support to address the literacy gap and a revamp of the teacher evaluation system.

The next steps for the tentative agreement, that the mayor calls fair to teachers and good for students, would be for WTU members to vote on the agreement and it be sent to Council of D.C. in December for approval.

Watch Next: Teachers across DC walk out

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