PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After an intense 4-hour session Tuesday evening, Bay District Schools and the local teacher’s union have come up with a contract.

“After months, many hours at the bargaining table, we have settled on the contract,” BDS Director of Communications Sharon Michalik said. 

The agreement sets the district’s base teacher salary at $47,544 dollars a year. That’s up from the previous minimum of $45,615.

“It gives our new teachers to the minimum, which was a huge goal for both sides this year to be able to reach that minimum because then kind of the monkey gets off of everybody’s back and it becomes much easier to talk about raises and finances going forward,” ABCE bargaining team co-chair Alexis Underwood said.

The raise will cost about 5 million dollars. The district will pay about 3.16 million dollars for that.

The state will pay the rest, about 1.845 million.

“An average raise of 5.52% and it’s across the board, some teachers will see more than that but an average raise of 5.52%,” Michalik said.

Settling this is important for both sides.

“It’s a milestone for us to achieve that, we think that the $47,500 salary will help us continue to attract new teachers, to retain new teachers,” Michalik said. “And most importantly, we took great steps tonight to make sure that everybody on the salary schedule is going to see a raise, the district came together with language to make sure that everybody gets a significant raise.”

“Remember a good bargaining session is one where nobody gets everything they want and nobody loses everything they want. And I think we struck a good compromise this year,” Underwood said. “There was some language that we left on the table that we really, really liked and wanted and will bring back another year to fight again, and then there were the things the district really wanted that they left on the table in the interest of being able to finish so that teachers know what their raise will be.”

It may have taken several months to sign the dotted lines but Bay District and ABCE walked away from Tuesday’s meeting with a bit of relief.

The contract still has to be ratified by a majority of the teachers union, then approved by the school board.