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The Davis School Board has approved a 6.2 percent cost-of-living raise for the school district's 2,300 teachers.

The pay raise - negotiated by the district and the Davis Education Association during 12 bargaining sessions since March 1 - is the first substantial increase the teachers have had in four years.Last fall, they received a 3 percent pay hike but said it was too little and walked out of classes on Sept. 22, setting off a chain reaction of strikes in other school districts.

The contract approved unanimously Tuesday by the school board also improves the advancement schedule and gives teachers an average increase in health benefits that is equal to 1.8 percent of their salary.

Overall, the average increase in the teachers' benefit package is 10.8 percent, said Assistant Superintendent Steve Ronnencamp, chief negotiator for the district.

Joel Briscoe, president of the association, said teachers - who ratified the contract last week in a 1,316-79 vote - are glad they finally got some attention.

"I would say the teachers are relieved. But they aren't going to go back to four years with zero increase."

The new salary package would increase a beginning teacher's salary by at least $1,000, while teachers with a doctorate and 20 years experience could receive a $1,987 increase, according to association officials.

Under the new pay schedule, a beginning teacher with a bachelor's degree will make $17,204 per year. A teacher with a Ph.D and 20 years' experience will make $34,183.

Funding for the benefit increases, which will cost the district $3.4 million, is being provided by an across-the-board $1,000 increase the Legislature approved earlier this year and from a 4 percent increase in the weighted pupil unit, Ronnencamp said.

School Board President Lynn Summerhays said he's happy the Legislature saw fit to provide the extra money for the teachers.

"We are proud of the fine teachers in this district and congratulate them for their excellent work with our children," Summerhays said.