News in Brief: School District Offers Berkeley Teachers a Raise

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In what could signal the end to a contentious battle over faculty salaries, Berkeley public school teachers have won an 11.5 percent pay hike.

The tentative agreement, announced Thursday, will give teachers a retroactive pay raise of 2 percent and will increase salaries by 9.5 percent next year, according to news reports. Before going into effect, the changes must be ratified by the school board and union members.

If approved, teachers' starting salaries will increase from $31,278 to $35,000 per year. The most highly paid teachers will earn $63,000 - a jump of more than $8,000 from the current high of $52,387.

District officials, however, estimated that the salary increases will cost them approximately $3.2 million over the next two years. They said the higher wages will deplete funds for athletic programs, class size reduction programs, and library books.

Both teachers and district officials agree that the pay boost will help attract more qualified teachers to the district and will help retain those already there.

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