- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The D.C. school board yesterday approved a contract that would give teachers a 20 percent raise over three years and give the city more power to manage the system.
The three-year contract is retroactive to October, when the old pact expired.
It includes raises of 5 percent this year and next, and 9 percent in the third year.
It also would give the District the ability to stagger workday start times at different schools, while the old contract mandated an 8:30 a.m. start for all teachers. The board expects the move to save money in transportation costs.
Though all members voted for the contract, several voiced concerns about its funding. The board will need to trim $15.1 million, or about 7 percent, this year from its capital budget.
Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz pledged construction projects already under way will not be affected, but said the board will have to think "creatively" about funding future renovations and construction.
The board hopes the pay raises a key goal of Mayor Anthony A. Williams will help lure teachers who would otherwise go to higher-paying jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia. Though it will still be paying less, the new contract brings District salaries closer to parity.
Still, several members said the cuts to the capital budget will have a severe effect on students already spending their days in dilapidated buildings.
"We constantly, constantly send a message to our students that everyone deserves consideration except them," said school board Treasurer Laura Gardner.
The contract now goes to Mr. Williams and the D.C. Council for approval.


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