Evergreen School District officials agreed Wednesday night to give teachers a 4.5 percent raise over three years, bringing an end to 16 months of negotiations, a teacher’s association reported.

The raise is included in a contract drafted by the Evergreen Teachers Association. Eighty-eight percent of 520 educators in the association approved the contract before it went before the district, the teachers association said. The raise will provide a 0.5 percent retroactive raise for 2017, another 1.5 percent this year and 2.5 percent for the 2019-2020 school year.

The contract also aims to protect class sizes in K-12 classrooms. The agreement depends on the renewal of a parcel tax on the November ballot that could bring an estimated $3.1 million to the school district, according to the teachers association. Class sizes currently have a ratio of one teacher to approximately 24 students. If the parcel tax isn’t renewed, this ratio could jump to one teacher for every 27 students, the association said. In addition, the contract protects art classes in grades four through six from being cut or threatened.

“The raises in this settlement will help the district recruit and retain educators so that we can continue to provide the quality education that all of our students want and deserve,” association President Brian Wheatley said in a statement.

Teachers were poised to strike before a hearing with the district from Sept. 17 to Sept. 18, according to association officials, who said the agreement came after the district’s original refusal to offer raises and months of teacher protests that began in June.

The district published a “frequently asked questions” page about the negotiations on Aug. 28 to share data about compensation, benefits and affected school programming. Administrators also defended themselves from allegations that the district didn’t care about its students and teachers.

“The District” or “administration” is made up of professionals who are in this business because they care about kids, full stop … their commitment to kids and their education is what they think about first thing in the morning and last thing at night,” administrators wrote. “It’s why we will do everything in our power to ensure that their education is never compromised. Period.”

Story originally published by Pagransen.