Vancouver principals forgo raises again

Group has done so for three straight years following downturn




Vancouver principals have agreed to not get a raise for a third year, but will take a fresh look at their pay next school year.

The Vancouver school board this week signed off on an agreement with the district’s 61 building administrators. The Vancouver Association of Principals and Associate Principals had already ratified the agreement Jan. 5, officials announced at the school board meeting.

This week’s action means that the contract in place since 2008 will be extended through this current school year. And just like they have for the past two school years, the parties have agreed to ignore a clause in the contract that automatically set principals’ pay according to a formula that looked at comparable districts’ salaries.

Until the 2008-09 school year, the district for years conducted a survey of principal salaries among districts of comparable size and complexity around the state, said Missy Hallead, director of human resources. Those districts included Evergreen, Bellevue, Highline and Federal Way, among others.

The contract in place then automatically set Vancouver principals’ pay to the fourth-highest rate on that list, plus $1, thus guaranteeing them the third spot among the comparable districts.

But principals declined that right given to them in their contract starting in the 2009-10 school year, after the recession hit, Hallead said. They’ve continued to do so every year since, including in the extension agreed upon for this year. Other comparable districts have given their principals raises since then, which means the school chiefs in Vancouver are not third on that list anymore, Hallead said.

The district has not examined where on that list of pay rates it currently stands, she said.

Principals also will not receive professional development — paid training — this year, which is a way for the district to pass on the 3 percent reduction in compensation mandated by the legislature, Hallead said.

For the coming three school years, the district and union agreed on a new contract with a new pay-setting system. Vancouver will once again survey the comparable districts around the state, but the new contract contains no automatic rule.

Instead, a committee made up of two representatives each from the union and district will negotiate a pay rate after seeing the survey results. If the committee cannot reach an agreement, the district and the union will enter traditional bargaining sessions.

Principals in Vancouver this year earn $85,000-$115,000 in salary, depending on position and experience, according to annual budget documents.

The district last fall signed a new contract with its teachers that included a 1.9 percent salary reduction achieved through loss of paid training and other measures.

This week’s agreement follows on the heels of a decision last week to not increase the salary of Clark County Administrator Bill Barron this year. Barron’s salary is $174,252. Earlier, Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes received a 3.5 percent salary increase for this year, which means he’ll earn $167,152.

Jacques Von Lunen: 360-735-4515;;

Update: This story has been updated to show the accurate reduction in principals’ pay that resulted from the loss of paid training, and to accurately show how last year’s teacher pay cut was realized.