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Bellevue teachers OK new contract; schools to start Tuesday

Bellevue teachers voted by 97 percent to OK a new 2-year contract Wednesday, meaning schools will start as scheduled on Tuesday. An agreement between the teachers and the school district had been stuck for weeks on two issues: how to allocated time on Wednesday afternoons when students are released early and how many days teachers have to enter grades into the district's online Gradebook.

"It's important that we ratified the contract. We are happy and ready to go forward," said Bellevue Education Association President Michele Miller. "I was very surprised, to be honest, at the pass rate of this contract. We're going to be able to focus on students."

Regarding the 36 hours from early Wednesday release time, eight hours (four Wednesdays out of the year) will be district-directed for teacher training and other uses. An additional eight hours will be teacher decided; during that time, teachers can decide who they want to work and collaborate with The remaining 20 hours will be building directed, and used for staff meetings, for example.

Under the new contract, teachers will have 15 school days to post student grades online.

In addition to the contract vote, 97 percent of the teachers also voted "no confidence" in Bellevue schools Supt. Amalia Cudeiro.

Miller said she hopes the no-confidence vote sends a clear message to the school district on the superintendent's performance.

"What the confidence no-confidence says is that the professional staff feel that the superintendent has no skills, no true investment in our district. She's here for a short term, only here to get the experience of being a superintendent, and then is going back to her consulting business where she is still listed as an employee," Miller said.

Another part of contract will see the school district allocate $500,000 toward the six TItle I schools, which include Odle Middle School and Sherwood Forrest and Lake Hills elementary schools, to help bridge the achievement gap. Title I schools are characterized by the number of students enrolled in Free and Reduced Lunch programs.

Speaking for the school district, School Board President Chris Marks said, “Both the district’s bargaining team and BEA have worked long hours on this new agreement that will better support students, teachers and parents." "I know we’re all excited to start school.”

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