School employees may have to continue to forgo raises at least until the next budget year.
Negotiators for United School Employees of Pasco and the school board reached a tentative contract agreement Wednesday night that keeps benefits intact, but provides nothing extra in employees' paychecks.
Pasco school employees last received a raise in 2007.
Employees won't have to take two unpaid furlough days, though, which was a plan the school board once floated as a cost-saving effort. Superintendent Kurt Browning and his staff were able to find other savings to offset the need for furloughs.
The union and the school district negotiated two contracts – one for teachers and one for other school employees, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
Although the proposed contracts don't include pay raises, the union said it received assurances that Browning wants to make finding funds for salary increases a priority for next year.
Browning reiterated that as a goal Thursday in a podcast shown to employees when he announced plans for job cuts and other organizational changes in the school district.
In a statement released Wednesday night, the union said neither side has been happy with the settlements over the last few years, but "both sides see light in the near future and are committed to bringing economic progress and security to our employees next year."
The contracts still must be ratified by employees and approved by the school board.
At this week's school board meeting, the two sides already were anticipating that a settlement agreement was likely when they renewed negotiations Wednesday night.
Lynne Webb, president of the union, told the school board Tuesday morning that the union would try to post the contracts on its website by Friday and have information out to all the schools for posting by Monday.
Employees need adequate time to review the proposals, she said, but a ratification vote could take place when they return from spring break, which is March 25-29.